Commercial Break

There once was a time when Hollywood actors took direction by the likes of Rossellini and Fellini who captured golden moments on the cobbled streets of Italy of a now bygone dolce vita; when a lifestyle was instantly iconic and so intensely desired by American folk who were mesmerised by everything and everyone who were filmed through a camera lens. While the tables may have turned in light of America's very own dolce vita - the American Dream - Italy has always sung to the beat of tu vuò fa l'americano, placing Hollywood and its contemporary superstars on a gilded pedestal as if it were the mid-twentieth century. Now the likes of Costner, Clooney, DiCaprio, De Niro, Pitt and Stone take direction of advertising producers who pay millions of dollars for their Made in Italy endorsement from coffee to banks and bathroom tiles, telecommunications and jewellery. Hollywood endorsement is big business anywhere, but the Italian market is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for movie stars - knowing the commercial will never air on their home turf to jeopardise their profile (and that of their studio), the opportunity provides the old Hollywood glamour that the Italian consumer gushes in abundance.

So to Venice, one of Italy's most famous cities, with its inherent style and movie-magic quality that will play host to La Biennale di Venezia next week. Artists, celebrities and celebrity artists will all ascend on the Arsenale to attend a host of openings, performances and exhibitions. This year Dasha Zhukova's Moscow-based Garage Projects will be presenting Commercial Break in the opening week of the Biennale. Over one hundred artists will contribute to this digital intervention with a series of works that engage with the relationship between advertising and culture - the works will be screened in various sites across the city as well as through an iPad application powered by POST magazine. Curated by Neville Wakefield, artists include Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Barbara Kruger, Gillian Wearing and Marilyn Minter, who will bring the form and language of advertising to Venice which has famously invited international controversy in the past with billboard advertising around the historic city. Below is a trailer to the event with clips from some of the participating artists.

Making column inches in both art journals and gossip magazines alike before next week's opening is Richard Phillips' contribution with his first short film, Lindsay Lohan. An extension to Phillip's practice of exploring themes of identity, sexuality and celebrity obsession - Most Wanted, White Cube Hoxton Square, March 2011 - the ninety-second motion portrait of Lindsay Lohan draws on classic portraiture and depicts the Hollywood celebrity in a number of classical poses that reference iconic moments in films starring sirens of the silver screen from Bardot to Ullman in masterpieces by Jean-Luc Godard and Ingmar Bergman respectively.
The motion portrait strongly references the form adopted by teasers or trailers that have become popular of late by luxury brands to create alternative product awareness. The fact Lohan's troubled profile, which most recently has awarded her house arrest for stealing a necklace that ironically she was endorsing, brings us to an incredible paradigm of narcissistic screen-test-meets-projected-mediated-identity that is driven by the demands of popular culture today. On Lohan, Phillips says,
"Lindsay has an incredible emotional and physical presence on screen that holds an existential vulnerability, while harnessing the power of the transcendental—the moment in transition. She is able to connect with us past all of our memory and projection, expressing our own inner eminence".
This is not the first time Lohan plays the role of art muse - Jonathan Horowitz used paparazzi shots of Lohan's then-weight loss intrigue to create large scale posters in his series of work Rome, and for Gagosian Gallery - who will be presenting Phillips' short film - this is also familiar territory. In 2009 the gallery presented GREED, A New Fragrance by Francesco Vezzoli, a short film by Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli that replicated the strategy and aesthetics of a commercial perfume launch and starred actors, Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams.
It is too early to say what messages or themes will result in this years Biennale, but if the first week is anything to go by Commercial Break will set the bar for unabashed contemporary commentary and the troubles of reality and fantasy into the forefront of artistic expression. What is certain is that Lindsay Lohan will not be able to attend the opening in Venice - with nothing more to lose and everything to gain, she will be lying low at home in Venice, California endorsing her very own accessory: an ankle bracelet.

Click here for more information about Garage Projects at La Biennale di Venezia 2011 and see film stills of Richard Phillip's Lindsay Lohan below...

Commercial Break
Garage Projects
1st - 5th June 2011

La Biennale di Venezia
The 54th International Exhibtion
4th June - 27th November 2011