Art

From Institutional Critique to YouPorn: The Strange Case of “Rosa Perfetto”

…few actually understood the work: a metaphor on how the contemporary visual culture relates to art history… Fucking it!

Story by Max Power - max.power@citizenbrooklyn.com Photos provided by Alterazioni Video
Art Porn Politics_0002

Photo © Cloth Wisperer

“Rosa Perfetto” is an eight minutes video featuring a young porn star interacting erotically with the burial statue of Guidarello Guidarelli. The video has been made by the collective Alterazioni Video for Acapulco, their solo show at the Museo d’Arte della Città di Ravenna (MAR), where the sculpture is preserved.

However, two days before the opening, the museum decided not to show the video, and it is still attempting to stop its online circulation.
Why? Apparently, this act of censorship is not related with the erotic content of the video, but with the policy of the museum regarding the statue after its recent restoration (2004).

Veronika Putanyova kissing Guidarello Photo © Alterazioni Video

Veronika Putanyova kissing Guidarello Photo © Alterazioni Video

Guidarello Guidarelli was a knight who served Cesare Borgia until his mysterious death, in 1501. The debate about the authorship of his burial statue is still open. In the XIX century, a legend started to spread, according to which any young woman who kissed the statue would get married in about a year. Since then, thousands of women have kissed the statue, covering it with lipstick marks. After the restoration, kissing or touching Guidarello was no longer allowed.

This is when the art collective Alterazioni Video decided to take action and shoot the film. This short and very well made video hadn’t a public venue where to be shown for three long years. The day that it was made the film was published in a blog for about five hours, collecting hundreds of clicks and comments, but then they got a call from the museum and had to take it down pronto.

Sydne Rome Kissing Guidarello in a scene of the film "La Ragazza di Latta"

Sydne Rome Kissing Guidarello in a scene of the film “La Ragazza di Latta”

This is not the first time that this popular belief has been crushed by institutional conservationism. In the seventies, the director of the Museum of Ravenna hid the statue for several months. After strong protests that lasted for days, he decided to expose the statue to women’s kisses again. Years later, the restoration of the statue began. This is where Alterazioni Video entered in the picture.

The facts: Now, this is important, the statue has recently been restored, all traces of lipstick and former promiscuity on Guido’s part washed away. So, naturally, Alterazioni Video wanted to take up the subject of the statue. And so, they brought in an “actress” from Prague and shot a full 58 minutes of the girl interacting erotically with the statue. Basically, they had sex, rather graphically. So the day before the opening, when they showed the film to the museum director, at the first flick of the girl’s tongue upon the hilt of the statue’s sword, he reportedly recoiled in horror, switched off the film and proclaimed that the MAR would not be screening it. So, in lieu of a screening, there was a press conference, in which both sides presented their arguments.

Press conference at Mar Museum in Ravenna

Press conference at Mar Museum in Ravenna

From the museum’s perspective, they claimed that the decision had more to do with the tactile element of the video, rather than the pornographic. “The statue is such an important work for the MAR, it represents the story of our museum, of, indeed, even Ravenna…” said Claudio Spadoni, the museum’s director, who was in charge of the restoration.
After spending however many tens of thousands of Euro to restore the statue, and making the decision to ban visitors from reenacting the legendary kiss, it is completely hypocritical to show a video of a naked woman climbing up, down and all around this statue. But there in lies another of Alterazioni’s points—a rumination on what is art, how do we define it and how do we access it. Traditionally, art is meant to be admired, not touched, and experienced visually, not tactilely. But, obviously, the Internet is all about combining these two, the visually artifice and the viewer’s interactive participation in the act of viewing. And, it was this exact point the artists sought to expound on. There was also the question of taste, and of a sort of “Berlusconi” approach to the visualization and exploitation of young women.

Still frame from Rosa Perfetto Photo © Alterazioni Video

Still frame from Rosa Perfetto Photo © Alterazioni Video

In my opinion, it also felt to me that the artists were heading down the well-trodden path of artistic conceits, the idea of artistic objects as objects meant for consumption, and hence converging on the idea of prostitution. Over the centuries, this statue has been kissed by thousands of women, in effect, “whoring himself out” for their pleasure. By bringing an actual erotic actress into physical contact with the statue, this idea was visually brought to life.
The video never made it to a public audience until few weeks ago in New York, where it was shown at Greene Naftali Gallery during a screening night dedicated to Alterazioni Video works. The reactions to the work were of different natures. Some were offended by the use of the woman’s body made by the Italian artists, others got excited and a few actually understood the work: a metaphor on how the contemporary visual culture relates to art history… Fucking it!

As one of the members of the collective stated during the press conference: “We made a seance and connected with the spirit of Guidarello Guidarelli. It was clear that he was very happy for the intimate afternoon with Veronika. No one in Ravenna has a doubt about that!”

One Response to “From Institutional Critique to YouPorn: The Strange Case of “Rosa Perfetto””

  1. Surfer girl says:

    I only have one question… whats the marital status on the actress” from Prague”. Did she ever get married within the year of the filming?