My project for the exhibition at the Maison du Diable, slated for September of 2023, issues from a recent discovery in the collections of the Fondation Fellini pour le Cinema. The trouvaille consists of a set of small notebooks filled with strange, abstract drawings and what appear to be transcribed excerpts from a Spanish translation of the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, as well as other, as yet unidentified texts.
These hitherto unknown documents are remarkable in several respects. First, they appear to have originated from Argentina sometime in the 1970s, and they are all signed by someone who refers to himself (or herself) only as Hermafróditos. Second, while largely unlike anything Fellini himself would have made, the drawings do recall his sketches and films in other respects, particularly in their choice and use of color, which are uncannily similar to the color schemes found in Fellini’s works from that period. Finally, certain pages in the notebooks have been torn in an apparently deliberate way that immediately conjures the many items in the collections of the Fondation Fellini that were presumably torn by Fellini’s own hand.
Three loosely connected concepts spring from these aspects of the Argentinian notebooks and will in turn structure the exhibition in Sion. Together, they speak to a tripartite archival unconscious of the Fondation Fellini, based upon (1) the hermaphroditic; (2) the Argentine; and (3) the torn, that is, the gesture and the aesthetics of tearing. My project will explore and manifest these interwoven concepts with various media and display them throughout the galleries of the Maison du Diable. Elements of the exhibition will include large digital prints featuring studied manipulations of specific details extracted from various documents that I have scanned at high resolutions; abstract drawings, of both large and modest dimensions, made with watercolor markers, alcohol inks, graphite, and pencil; a site-specific installation filling the cellar of the Maison du Diable consisting of a labyrinth of torn fabric, hanging in strips from the ceiling and extending to the floor, and tinted in hues that trend gradually from the lightest possible gray at the entrance to jet black at the rear of the room; a looping soundtrack with layers of isolated voices from some of Fellini’s films, fragments of the Misa Criolla by Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez, and other elements yet to be determined; and, time permitting, a looping video consisting of elements of Fellini’s films from the 1970s, extracted entirely from their background and floating in empty space (ideally, the video will be projected directly onto the aforementioned strips of hanging cloth).
Together, these works will serve a twofold function. First, they will present a visual record of my preliminary forensic research into the notebooks and their numerous potential constellations within the Fellini Foundation archives. Second, they aim to explore and develop the formal principles and techniques one discerns in the notebooks themselves, at the same time following certain conceptual avenues that link the Argentinian notebooks directly with select, recondite,hermaphroditic aspects of Fellini’s own aesthetics.