Anna Franceschini uses film as a symbolic and evocative device through which she defines a crystalline language of moving images. Her research moves towards “pure cinema” and relies on the structures and languages of art as a tribute to both early and experimental cinema in its main expressive and theoretical orientations: the art of image, abstract and conceptual visual writing, freedom from narrative constraints. In her works the artist almost entirely excludes the human figure to concentrate on places and objects that become the terrain for investigating the enigma of existence.
“If we try to conceive of the exhibition as a film idea that has been fragmented, scattered and then concentrated again, it is easy to see that the story never begins: the three projections can be viewed as reifications of three tragic acts and the monitor in the mezzanine as an angelic, interminable ‘The End’. The machines, celibate and a little innocent, enter the scene, from darkness into light, voilà. Curtains, footlights. They attempt to act, they play a part. Their movements are stiff, never relaxed, as if this were the first rehearsal of a piece. ‘The acting is so machine-like, mes chers amis!’ Never has a director’s complaint been more literal. The soundtrack is on a par: four notes of a theme we will never hear, the melodious sound of a harp, imitated by a computer, blends in with pistons and metallic clinking and clanging. It is the eternal Hitchcockian incipit, the mechanism of suspense thwarted by its continuous reprisal, always the same, for ever. It is an entrance – action! – that never changes, that has no end or purpose but to move about and move yet again, only to stop.” (A.F.)
For her solo show at Peep-Hole, Franceschini has made a new film, The Stuffed Shirt. The work alludes to an idiomatic expression that is no longer used much and it stars a “dressman”, an automatic ironing system used by industrial laundries to eliminate creases from shirts and trousers. The “dressman” fills the shirts with life, almost making them explode; it pushes them to the limit, to a sort of cardiac arrest that makes the garment collapse. The artist uses the camera as a resuscitator, a sort of heart-lung device of the moving image. Through a machine – the 16mm camera – for short repeated seconds Franceschini gives a fleeting humanized image to another machine: the press. The installation probes the dual nature of the “dressman”. An inert and inoffensive mechanical aid, almost pitiful because of its incomplete and slightly oversized body, the iron manikin then swells up suddenly, looming over people to become a monster that, escaping human control, can cause catastrophes. The non-human creatures of gothic and fantasy literature, but also of traditional and folk narrations, instantly come to mind. But it is above all cinema – the quintessential golem machine – that has paid tribute to them from the very beginning, with the likes of Frankenstein, zombies and robots, and on to Robocop and the affable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, who in Ghostbusters panics the population with his immense white body as he goes around New York City. The work is composed of filmed segments that are then digitalized, in which the audio – field recordings, to which the synthetic glissando of a harp has been added – works through superimposition to saturate the space hazily.
Anna Franceschini (b. Pavia 1979; lives and works in Brussels) earned a master’s degree in Television, Cinema and Multimedia Production in 2006 from IULM University in Milan and was then awarded a postgraduate research fellowship in History and Criticism of Italian Cinema. Her videos and films have been selected by numerous film festivals such as the 60th Locarno Film Festival (2008) and the TFF/Torino Film Festival (2008). She has participated in various collective shows, including The Flying Carpets, Villa Medici, Rome (2012); A Text is a Thing, Vistamare/Benedetta Spalletti, Pescara (2011); The Eleventh Hour, Futura, Prague (2011); Videoreport Italia 2008-09, GC.AC., Monfalcone (2010). Solo and duo shows include Halation, Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp (2012); Subjective projektionen: Anna Franceschini, Bielefelder Kunstverein, Bielefelder (2012); Thea Ddjordjatze: Quite Speech in Wide Circulation / Screening room: Anna Franceschini, Kiosk Gallery, Ghent (2011). In 2011 she received honourable mention at the Ariane de Rothschild Art Prize, Milan, and in 2012 she won the Fondazione Ermanno Casoli Prize, Fabriano, and the New York Prize. Franceschini has had residencies at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam (2009–10) and VIR / Viafarini In Residence, Milan (2011). Her work is part of important public collections such as that of the Museé National d’Art Moderne / Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the Museo MACRO, Rome.
01. Anna Franceschini, The Stuffed Shirt, 2012. Video installation, 3 digital projections, 1 cathodic monitor, color/sound. Installation View at Peep-Hole. Courtesy Vistamare, Pescara
02. Anna Franceschini, The Stuffed Shirt, 2012. Video installation, 3 digital projections, 1 cathodic monitor, color/sound. Installation View at Peep-Hole. Courtesy Vistamare, Pescara
03. Anna Franceschini, The Stuffed Shirt, 2012. Video installation, 3 digital projections, 1 cathodic monitor, color/sound. Installation View at Peep-Hole. Courtesy Vistamare, Pescara
04. Anna Franceschini, The Stuffed Shirt, 2012. Video installation, 3 digital projections, 1 cathodic monitor, color/sound. Installation View at Peep-Hole. Courtesy Vistamare, Pescara