Backdrop (Venice) (scène 18)

2017

Research Pavilion, in the context of the 57th Venice Biennale

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Backdrop (Venice) is an installation and a theater piece. It was temporarily installed in Venice, on the San Marco Square, in May 2017, in the context of the 57 the Art Biennale, as part of the group show You gotta Say yes to Another Access at the Research Pavilion (II). It is made of a large semi-transparent polyethylene greenhouse film hung to a removable backstage arch made of steel theater fly bars. In his painting La Commedia dell’Arte sulla Piazza San Marco (circa 1720), Giovanni Antonio Canal, a.k.a. Canaletto – who started to paint helping his father to realize theater landscape backdrops for Venetian Sant’Angelo and San Cassiano theaters – pictures a stage setting for a theater performance at the sunset on the Piazza San Marco in Venice. As can be seen in the veduta, monochromatic sheets were traditionally used as stage backdrop in order to isolate the representation and focus the attention on the proscenium. This separation of the stage from its surrounding environment aimed at enhancing the centripetal intensity of the (human) drama. The outdoor and indoor air-played installation Backdrop (Venice) transposes the Western theatre architecture, historically based on the production of anthropocentric attention, into an apparatus of expansion of the (notion of) stage. Hence, the backdrop becomes here the actor who plays by being played by random winds and airflows. The scenic logic of segregation morphs into a dynamic of inclusion and codependency; the produced stage emerging as a contingent dispositif of multiagential assemblage, porosity, and pluritemporality. The backdrop does not thus operate as a functional separation anymore; but as an animated passage, suggesting that there might be nothing outside of the stage any longer.

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