The latest installment of the Live Cinema series at the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents the work of Italian artist and filmmaker Anita Sieff who in her films explores the complexities of human communication in lyrical and everyday scenarios. The exhibition Anita Sieff: Films focuses on her work in film and video since 1993. In these films contemporary urban settings provide the backdrop for a series of fragmented, and at times abstract dialogues, through which women and men explore the complex terrain of their interpersonal relationships. In films such as Public Love (2003) and Fashion Weather Forecast (2006), Sieff reveals the ways in which individual identities are constructed, beliefs debated, and emotions examined through these interactions.
Stylistically, Sieff’s work evokes the films of Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and Luchino Visconti. From1989 to 1990, she worked in Rome with celebrated Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007), an experience that inspired her to move to New York City and study film. Besides the cinematic idioms of these European masters, Sieff’s frame of reference also includes formats popularized through television, such as music videos and soap opera that she employs to create discursive non-linear but also playful and witty narratives.
Sieff explores the vulnerability and fragility associated with interpersonal exchanges and relationships. Lovers, friends, and strangers gather, confront each other, and retreat into the cityscapes that surround them. New York and Venice recur in her work, not only serving as a background but also seeming to influence the emotions and behaviors of their inhabitants.
Sieff’s earlier films, “Missed No. 1” (1993) and “Missed No. 2” (1994) are highly allegorical works about desire, where people come together according to their ever-changing position in an urban universe that surrounds and at times threatens to overwhelm them. The silence of these two films allows the viewer to appreciate Sieff’s camerawork – virtually caressing the bodies of her characters and capturing the atmosphere of the city that envelopes them.
The cinematic quality of the early films shot in 16 millimeter is replaced by the rougher, more abrupt quality of the video in Sieff’s later work, such as the “Fashion Weather Forecast” series. Initially conceived as a pilot for a television series, The Fashion Weather Forecast (2006) reveals the artist’s disregard and distrust for the conventions of television. With its nonlinear format and humorous self-awareness, The Fashion Weather Forecast follows the wardrobe choices and complex love life of its memorable heroine, Monica. Here, Sieff’s perspective is anchored in parody and defined by the worldview of Monica, an attractive woman approaching the inevitability of middle age for whom clothes have come to signify the possibility of endless metamorphosis. The allegorical conclusion of the second installment in the series The Fashion Weather Forecast 2012 (2008) has Monica facing the end of time with optimism, but without the signature fashion accessories that had previously defined her.
About the artistAnita Sieff has worked as a visual artist since 1980 and her photographs, films, videos and installations have been exhibited in Europe and the United States. She studied communications at Ca’Foscari University in Venice and in 1996 began to address the subject both in film and live performance. From 1996 to 2001, Sieff conceived and directed Guggenheim Public, an ongoing creative dialogue between artists and authors in Venice. In 2001, she launched Public, an independent project at the Museum Fortuny in Venice in which the artist orchestrated encounters between arts and cultural professionals from around the world. In 1998, she founded the EthTV (Ethics Television) project, an online forum where communication become part of the artistic process with artists and authors submitting work in various formats and initiating a complex and ethical discourse. She lives and works in Venice.
Schedule of filmsProgram 1:
October 3 – November 2, 2008
On Public (2006)
Public Love (2003)
November 4 – November 30, 2008
The Fashion Weather Forecast (2006)
The Fashion Weather Forecast 2012 (2008)
December 2, 2008 – January 4, 2009
Missed No. 1 (1993)
Missed No. 2 (1994)
People Never Change (1995)
Related eventConversation with the artist
Anita Sieff in dialogue with Carlos Basualdo, Curator of Contemporary Art
Friday, October 3 at 6 p.m., Seminar Room, First Floor
(Free after Museum admission)
About Live Cinema
Live Cinema is the title of a series of film and video programs at the Film and Video Gallery that explores the vast production of single channel video and film by a diverse group of local, national and international artists. In the last decade an ever-increasing number of contemporary artists have appropriated these media as an artistic outlet, in dialogue with the early video and Super 8 practices of the 1960s and the tradition of experimental filmmaking. Each installment of the Live Cinema series focuses on a specific aspect of this work, in order to both map and analyze this important aspect of contemporary art production. Programs are accompanied by a series of public lectures by the participating artists as well as a publication in which writers discuss the works exhibited.