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Since 2003 the artists Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi have been collaborating under the name Invernomuto. Their artistic practice comprises moving image and sound—their primary medium—and sculpture, publishing, and performance.
For the Museion Prize 1 two works of the artists were selected, both dealing with stereotypes and a critical approach toward identity models, and representation: the Film MALÙ—Lo Stereotipo della Venere Nera in Italia [censored] (2015) is a video-essay examining the construction of the image of the black female body in Italian society, from the colonial age to modern times. The second work in the selection is TABÙ (2016), which consists of laser-cut vinyl icons and logos of Italian brands that, consciously or not, have created examples of ethno-marketing.
Invernomuto’s work is a research-based, trial-like exploration of Italian history, and how cultural identity and ambiguous relationships in the dimension of otherness developed within it.
This relationship is caught between the country’s colonial past and the distinctive stereotypes created by the populist, consumerist, media-spawned residues of exotic fascination, and are present with all the combined challenges of unresolved globalization.
The challenges the artists address include the digital revolution, the growing importance of financial activities in the economic system and its self-induced recessions, the expansion and radicalization of nationalist, terrorist, and migratory phenomena, and in the context of systematic discrimination between the world’s north and south, the risks involved with todays climate and environment. MALÙ—Lo Stereotipo della Venere Nera in Italia [censored] refers to three areas of stereotypes that date back from the 19th century: the European fascination with Saartjie Baartman, the so-called “Hottentot Venus”; the reappearance of photographs of Abyssinian women in Italian cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, and in the advertising campaigns of the 1980s; and the more recent media phenomena in the frenzy surrounding Berlusconi and Ruby Rubacuori. MALÙ—Lo Stereotipo della Venere Nera in Italia [censored] is based on a montage of images of Abyssinian women commissioned by the Istituto LUCE (Educational Film Union) of the fascist regime in the 1920s, typical cinema-advertising of the 1980s, and discovered footage from the Italian documentary subgenre known as mondo films, which from the 1960s onward, mixed reality and fiction, thereby laying the foundations of the 1970s Blaxploitation genre, of which the sexy and uninhibited Emmanuelle series was the peak both in terms of the serial nature of its narrative and its impact on the public imagination.
Today, the obliterated body in the collective storytelling of black women—the subject of Invernomuto’s research in these works—continues to be the object of a re-modulated narrative that exchanges objective reality for the collective stereotype.
TABÙ continues this discussion in classifying and comparing the above mentioned Italian commercial brand logos and logotypes, for example, coffee, chocolate and dessert brands, that have defined narrative strategies containing clear racist and sexist ethno-marketing on account of their persistent simplification of historical reality and the psychological reality of the person shown. The work compiles representations of black and African diversity: faces, masks deprived of their textual reference or their brand identity.
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