Part of Saltoun Online, this virtual screening brings together three of Marinella PIRELLI's most significant films: Narciso, Film Esperienza [Narcissus, Film Experience] (1966–1967), Indumenti [Garments] (1966–1967) and Doppio Autoritratto [Double Self-Portrait] (1973–1974). Each film will beavailable for seven days only throughout the duration of the online show.
With a career spanning more than 50 years, Pirelli's artistic efforts and unquestionable talent are still surprisingly under-recognised. A leading experimental filmmaker in the 1960s and 1970s, Pirelli's 16mm film explorations of light and movement have only recently been rediscovered thanks to the retrospective that Museo del Novecento in Milan dedicated to her in 2019.
This selection of works traverse numerous thematics connected to the idea of intimacy, the body and the relation of self with other. With each film available for a limited amount of time, the exhibition reveals different and exclusive content progressively over a period of three weeks. By experiencing Pirelli's work from the comforts of home, rather than a setting usually reserved for museums and institutions, one can develop a more intimate and deeper understanding of the artist.
Each selected film reveals her closeness to the artistic and theoretical milieu of the 1960s and 1970s, especially her encounters with Italian art critic and feminist Carla Lonzi, a figure who contributed significantly to Pirelli's shift from images with visual rhythms and colour theory to an investigation in to one's own being, where the presence of the body becomes more present and concrete.
Starting with the short 16mm film Narciso, in which Pirelli takes close-up details of her body in a diary- like format, she explores her identity as a woman, mother and artist. In the second week we will show the short documentary film Indumenti [Garments] that records Arte Povera artist Luciano Fabro making a cast in tissue paper from Carla Lonzi's breast. The virtual screening concludes with Pirelli's last film, Doppio Autoritratto [Double Self-Portrait], where she filmed herself acting simultaneously as a director and actress.
De facto, her career as filmmaker ends with the admission that we can only be self-aware in the presence of the other: 'The camera was my partner; each of you is now my partner.' By questioning the paradigms of image creation and revealing the limits of self-narration, it was Marinella Pirelli's uniqueness in the context of Italian experimental cinema that makes her films both contemporary and timeless.
A crucial figure in Italian post-war art, Marinella Pirelli (1925–2009) worked across painting, drawing, moving image, light environments and experimental cinema. She studied Literature and Philosophy at Padova University and, after several years living between Milan and Rome, settled in Rome in 1950 and started working at the animation production company, Filmeco. Her approach–both incredibly personal and avant-garde–has meant that Pirelli has avoided many definable schools and currents, although remaining in contact with the best of contemporary creativity of her time. She was close to artists and critics including Carla Accardi, Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro, Bruno Munari, Achille Bonito Oliva and influential feminist theorist Carla Lonzi. She was one of the few Italian female artists working in experimental film, and her works examine numerous thematics connected to the body, the gaze and the relationship with the cinema apparatus/projection event. Her film experiments ended in 1973 with the premature death of her husband, Giovanni Pirelli.
Press release courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery.