Vanessa Beecroft
08/04/2003 > 24/05/2003

Opening on 05/04/2003, from 7 pm to 9 pm

For her solo exhibition at COSMIC GALERIE, VANESSA BEECROFT presents VB51, a 60 minutes documentary of the performance which took place on August 31, 2002 at Count Peter Metternich's castle of Vinsebeck, in Germany.

In the performances that have established her international reputation, VANESSA BEECROFT sets a group of characters, usually an homogenous selection of nude or undressed young women, in a tableau vivant. All the components are meticulously chosen according to autobiographical concerns, and sometimes contextual considerations. For the artist, 'the girls' are at the same time the basic material of her work as well as projections of herself. During the performance, lasting for several hours, they stay silent, immobile and impassive to the audience, occasionally breaking their initial order to sit or stretch. In this way the painting comes to a life of its own. The piece is documented by photographs and sometimes a video.

VB51 is a milestone in VANESSA BEECROFT's work: the film that is drawn from this performance is meant as an autonomous piece. The artist was inspired by the setting (not an art space, but a private home, the summer residence of a German high aristocracy family) and by the movie Last Year in Marienbad by Alain RESNAIS, whose suspended and refined atmosphere she manages to evoke. The protagonists are twenty five women of various ages and features: members of the artist's family (mother, sister and mother-in-law), representatives of the local aristocracy and two aristocrats ad honorem, the German actresses Irm HERMANN and Hanna SCHYGULLA.

They all represent the same woman at different psychological moments and ages of her life. The white Sant'Angelo gowns that most of the women wear participate in making them timeless and reinforce the general feeling of evanescence. Hanna SCHYGULLA, muse of director Rainer Werner FASSBINDER, among others, breaks the rule of silence for the first time in a performance, as she intones lyrics from Franz SCHUBERT's Winterreise. The audience, that the artist wanted formally dressed, contributes to the overall vision and is therefore part of the film.

Through these multiple aspects of one woman, VANESSA BEECROFT places herself both outside the action, being its invisible organizer, and at the centre of it, identifying herself, at this particular moment of her life, with all these women in general but with no one in particular.

Also shown at COSMIC GALERIE are group photographs and two series of portraits from VB51.


Cosmic Galerie also features a bookshop in collaboration with Ofr and a video program by BdV (Bureau des Vidéos), which will display until May 24 Free Bird, 2002, by Eli SUDBRACK and La Partie, 2002, by Pierre BISMUTH.

Upcoming exhibition: Marco Boggio SELLA, Piero GOLIA and Marcello SIMEONE, from June 5 to July 19, 2003.