“Incanto” is the first exhibition in a public institution by Irene Montini & Rocco Gurrieri (25 September 2020 – 21 January 2021).
The exhibition, curated by Sergio Risalti and Luca Puri, was born as an offshoot of an unreleased film produced by the Museo Novecento. The two artists have taken a series of large-format photos from the settings of the film. A cinematographic and visual experiment, the exhibition consists of a photo gallery and a small screening room. The photo series illustrates the themes of their work, the disruption of the domestic environment and the insinuation of the magical element into reality. On the second floor, the projection conducts a dialogue with an “alien plant”, a sculpture by the set designer Matteo Pucci which constitutes the linchpin of the narrative of this fable.
“Incanto is a black fable in which the family home becomes a place of shadow and transition between fantastical, diabolical worlds. A terrible tale, an adolescent education that is at once spiritual, poetic and deadly, taking place in large country houses that resemble abandoned old ladies. Unique, special beings, the protagonists of these tales are approached and then dragged away by a fantastic world to which they secretly belong. Only a few traces of their flight, visible to the right eyes, remain in our reality”, curators say.
Two sisters left alone by their pianist mother are forced to spend the summer in their aunt and uncle’s huge house. Gradually enthralled by new games, amoral ideas and forbidden books, the two lose control of their desires, evoking a nameless evil that manifests itself as a poisonous organism, a delusory transition between this and other worlds. Sometime later, in another age and another summer, an abandoned and inquisitive girl named Madeleine becomes aware of the events linked to their destiny and she begins to investigate. The themes of growing up, the discovery of sexuality and the fascination with mystery permeate most of their production, which aims to recount experiences through instruments that transcend reality. Magic, neither good nor evil, lurks behind every corner. The colourful sets, filled with detail and very conspicuous styling play with savage irony on the theme of inner turmoil, suspended between love and death, sex and innocence. Their works evoke an oneiric sensory overload, constantly on the point of turning into a nightmare and represent a parallel journey between art and fashion, where the aim is to subtly overturn the precarious concept of “normality”.
These are sweet yet cruel stories, bewildering ballads about little girls, alone and curious, doomed by nature to be separated from their families, to slide into different, magical, savage places. On some roads, there is no going back, you can only plunge forward.
Irene Montini and Rocco Gurrieri are a duo of photographers and directors. They have been working together since 2017 on publishing projects, fashion films, experimental animated films, illustrations and comics. Irene has a degree in photography, while Rocco comes from a background as assistant in two movie production companies. Their first works were animations shot with the stop motion technique, Il tè delle 5 [5 o’clock Tea] and Giallo spaghetti [Yellow spaghetti]. They have made fashion films and publishing features for “Vice”, “I-d”, “Schön magazine”, “Contributor magazine”, “Dazed Beauty”, “Infringe Magazine”, “Navel magazine”, “Just magazine”, Luisa Via Roma, Nike, Ferragamo and Reebok. After directing the documentary Sustainable Thinking in 2019 for the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum and preparing the photos for the catalogue bearing the same name, they set out on a path that was to lead to the creation of the exhibition Incanto. Their works evoke the atmospheres of the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Dorothea Tanning, the enchanting fantasies of Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio, the perplexing weirdness of David Lynch and Fellini, as well as the pulp art of Nathalie Djurberg. The constant references to food and the sexual metaphors recall the surreal stop motion animations of Jan Švankmajer and the highly colourful psychological nightmares of Suzan Pitt. Irreverent stories without a happy ending.