Vanessa Beecroft’s work embodies a complex relationships between food, illness and art, as well as fashion and design. Her performances are provocative and controversial – she has gained notoriety with her nude tableaux – dozens of naked women standing motionless in stark locations. The critics could never decide if it was feminism or exploitation.
Food obsession and redention
Beecroft’s provocative word, which combines elements of fashion and performance art, is tied to her obsession with her eating disorder, exercise bulimia. “I think her art is about shame, about facing the shame. Her obsession does, of course, “eat up” a tremendous portion of her life, daily and psychic. But it also apparently feeds her art. It is a therapy.” (Judith Thurman)
“20 vaguely similar women wearing underwear, high heels (or sneakers), maybe pantyhose or wigs, and not much else. The work has an anthropological logic: the performers and their costumes usually come from the city in which the performance is taking place and included light body-makeup and powdered hair that contributed to the walking-mannequin effect.” (Kate Niamh Meehan)
“It was a circuit-jamming combination of fashion, theater and art; a two-and-a-half-hour spectacle of languorous immobility and reciprocal staring, appropriately titled ‘’Show.’’[...] The women stared into space, aloof and indifferent. Occasionally they stretched, crouched or walked slowly around. So little was happening that when one model strolled slowly among her colleagues, as through an orchard, it counted as drama.’’
Concept and project
A. OPENING performance
Entering the area you are welcome in the first element of the project, identified by the abandoned industrial building, that works as a Research Center, hosting an open library and an exhibition space at the ground level. The result is a very open and flexible space. The evocative atmosphere is characterized by the combination of existing brick walls with new materials. This is the perfect space able to host VB performances, making a previwof the main space of the theatre.
B. LAND-SCAPE performance
This kind of performance is wider and more aimed to urban impact. It involves all the riverside, enhancing the movement around it. On the one side there is the VB performance on a catwalk, while people walk, observe and interact all around it, using both sides of the river and proper sight stops. It provides an outside extension of the performance and an alternative path to the Square Theatre, that could represent the final exhibition stage.
indoor exhibition scheme
Opening performance / Indoor exhibition
The main opening performance consists in an indoor exhibition, hold in the old industrial abandoned building, transformed in a research center in our project. The Research Center building, obtained by a huge operation of demolition of the inner part of the fabric and the preservation of its envelop - four brick wall facades-and by the addition of a scaffolding system that allows a perimetral circulation all along the interior of building, provides the ideal location for a Vanessa Beecroft’s performance. Her works are usually settled in some scenographic places, nothing more than the pure architecture: nude architectures for nude bodies.
Thus the need to use the space and its void. There’s the special need to create a strong visual impact in order to catch the totality of the performance, and to be impressed by the atmosphere. The height of this space plays a lead role in the performance: in this case the presence of public stairs and galleries all around the walls makes possible to visitors to go on the upper floors and look at the performance from above and see different combinations and drawings made by the bodies on the stage; thus are provided different perspectives and perceptions of the performance.
The strengthening of the concept of stairs is not coincidence: it suggests the idea of movement. There are stairs for visitors and stairs for the performers. The models are supposed to climb a central double staircase, a transparent stair placed in the very venter of the hall, and they can actually keep on moving in a continuous, infinite path up and down these steps or sit on them when the performance requires it. There’s no place to seat, except in the upper floors. All the project evokes the theme of the movement along a path. The stairs also reconnect to the monumental ones inside the main theatre.
research center groundfloor / first floor
research and project book