Art & Artists at Lo Schermo dell’Arte Film Festival

Yayoi Kusama

November 13 – 18: SCHERMO DELL’ARTE. International festival screening films in English at Cinema La Compagnia, Le Murate, Progetti Arte Contemporanea, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Palazzo Strozzi, and Cango Cantieri Goldonetta.

The 11th edition of Lo Schermo dell’Arte is dedicated to the relationship between cinema and art and will feature a diverse selection of feature films, short films and documentaries made by artists. or about artists.  All films will be screened in English and some will have Italian subtitles. The program includes meetings with authors and curators, workshops and training projects.

The festival will welcome over 50 distinguished guests such as artists Barbara Visser and Gabrielle Brady, director Lisa Immordino Vreeland, curator Sarah Perks and producer Yorgos Tsourgiannis. Below are some of the highlights.

La Schermo dell’Arte will begin at 6 pm on Tuesday, November 13 with a section at Le Murate called European Identities: New Geographies in Artists’ Film and Video. English director Peter Greenaway will debut his upcoming movie, Walking to Paris. The piece follows the journey of 27-year-old Constantin Brancusi, who traveled from his native Romania to Paris in 1903 and subsequently became a major figure in 20th century art. The screenings will continue daily at Le Murate until the festival’s conclusion on Sunday, November 18.

Sarah Perks and Leonardo Bigazzi will direct the fourth installation of the Feature Expanded project, a training workshop entitled Art Film Strategies. The seminar will welcome 12 international artists wishing to make their first feature film and awards will be given on Saturday, November 17 at 9 pm (Cinema La Compagnia) with a talk scheduled prior, on Friday, November 16 at 3:45 pm (Sala Giordano, Palazzo Medici Riccardi). The European Program on Artists’ Moving Images (VISIO) is another project curated by Bigazzi and aimed at young video and cinema artists. 12 artists out of 90 applicants from 32 different countries will be featured in the exhibition European Identities: New Geographies in Artists’ Film and Video which will open November 13 at Le Murate (accessible daily through Nov. 18 from 11:30 am – 7 pm; free admission).

Focus On is a retrospective event beginning at 9 pm on Wednesday, November 14 at Cinema La Compagnia. The event will celebrate the photography/cinematic career of Rä Di Martino, an Italian artist regarded as one of the most interesting figures in the international visual arts scene. Her work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, the MCA in Chicago and the Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan. The evening will begin with the world premiere of her new short film 100 Piper: Brief History of the Piper of Turin (1966-1969).  On the following day (Thursday, November 15), seven short films created by Di Martino between 2001 and 2017 will be screened at Cinema La Compagnia starting at 7:40 pm.

The Zapruder filmmakers group will present their current project Zeus Machine at 9:40 pm at Cinema La Compagnia on Wednesday, November 14. The piece was born as a multi-channel installation project, divided into and dedicated to the 12 Labors of Hercules; the original version is in Italian, but the screening will include English subtitles. The Zapruder group is renowned for experimenting with new formats, putting their work on the border between visual, performance and cinematic arts. Their works defy the traditional canons of film and have been included in exhibitions in Rotterdam, Milan, Rome and more.

The feature-length film Kusama-Infinity (2018) will premiere at Cinema La Compagnia on Friday, November 16 at 9 pm. This documentary by American film director Heather Lenz is dedicated to 90-year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, a self-described “obsessional artist” known for her use of mirrors and polka dots in pop-art installations. She began painting as a child due to hallucinations she was experiencing involving vast fields of dots, which have remained a consistent theme inspiring her iconic art pieces throughout her adult career.

Kusama studied art briefly in Kyoto in 1948 before leaving Japan and moving to New York City. She refers to her work in New York as an “infinity net” consisting of thousands of tiny marks repeated across a canvas. Her style, however, quickly became more sculptural and performance starting with the debut of her first Infinity Mirror Room in 1965. The way in which she arranged the mirrors gave the viewer the impression that these figures continued endlessly in a vast field.

In 1977, Kusama checked herself into a psychiatric hospital in Japan while continuing to produce art and beginning to write surreal poetry.  She has continued to make mirrored infinity rooms with various shapes, always including her iconic dots or some sort of light display. Since then, her work has been shown at many modern art museums. Kusama-Infinity gives insight into the artist’s life both before and after her artwork gained popularity and gives viewers a rare glimpse into the mind of Kusama herself.

On Saturday, November 17, Island of the Hungry Ghosts (2018) will be screened at Le Murate at 9 pm. The piece is by Australian artist Gabrielle Brady which won numerous honors including Best Documentary Feature Award at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. The film intertwines the life of a young psychologist committed to supporting migrants in detention centers on Christmas Island with the fascinating annual migration of millions of crabs from the jungle to the coast.

The End of Fear (2018) will show (with the film’s director Barbara Visser in attendance) at Cinema La Compagnia on Saturday, November 17 at 6 pm. The film delves into a famous murder – not of a person, but of a painting. Visser reconstructs the events that unfolded in the wake of the 1986 art crime, when a man used a box cutter to attack a Barnett Newman painting hanging in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. American conservator David Goldreyer was hired to restore the painting, but instead used a roller to crudely plaster over it with red paint. The film investigates the value of art and notions of authorship and attempts to determine the point when a work of art ceases to exist.

“Lo Schermo dell’Arte has become a European reference point for moving images,” says director Silvia Lucchesi. “Intended to build stronger relationships with international partners on future projects, this international project is devoted to the younger generation, and to the vision of artists who describe an increasingly problematic and contradictory present. Thanks to the work carried out by the festival, Florence has become a meeting place for artists, curators, and filmmakers from all over the world.”  (leigh van ryn & delaney huesgen)

For more information, visit the Schermo dell’Arte website.