IMA at Surfers
16 July–10 August 201116 Jul–10 Aug 2011
Melbourne artist Damiano Bertoli has made a series of shows based on his research into two presentations of Pablo Picasso’s 1941 play Le Desir Attrape par la Queue(Desire Caught by the Tail): a 1944 reading in Picasso’s studio that featured members of the Parisian intellectual scene and a 1967 production organised by French artist Jean-Jacques Lebel in Saint Tropez. Featuring a host of absurd and abstract characters—including Thin Anxiety, Curtains, Silence, and The Onion—Picasso’s play was excessive and transgressive. In restaging it as a psychedelic ‘happening’, Lebel presented an anarchistic, subversive commentary on the dominant social structures of his own time. Bertoli’s project is all about revisiting or restaging history, and his choice of Picasso’s play is significant. Written against the backdrop of wartime Paris, Surrealism, and psychoanalysis, it was already informed by themes from classical Greek literature, including Plato’s Symposium. Drawing on a range of archival documents, anecdotes, and visual motifs, Bertoli’s ‘spatial collage’ recontextualises the play in the present to create a ‘continuous moment’ through and across time.