Sleeping Beauty, 2003. Three channel video, 20min. loop, b&w, stereo.
Rita Hayworth’s star turn in Charles Vidor’s movie Gilda (1946) was decisive in establishing the actress as a Hollywood sex bomb. On July 1 of the same year, the United States exploded the fourth atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, a test designed to show the world that the country had a nuclear arsenal. The bomb was named Gilda and had Hayworth’s image painted on its surface. David Krippendorff takes this equation as a point of departure for paintings, drawings, and video that move adroitly through the linked terrains of social criticism and political dissent. The movie Gilda, with its narrative stereotypes and cloying sets, is a perfect manifesto of American cultural colonialism in the wake of World War II, and Krippendorff uses it to map Hollywood’s role in glamorizing war and power, with their potent mix of the erotic and the political. In postwar Buenos Aires, where corruption and international plots are rife, Hayworth’s character bears witness to a collapse of feelings and values. […]
The same scene is at the center of the twenty-minute video Sleeping Beauty, 2003. Oblivious to the outside world, Gilda moves almost imperceptibly while on two side panels bombs fall in slow motion. Here Krippendorff ties together all the elements implicit in his paintings and drawings, orchestrating a visual narrative that obliquely addresses the language of propaganda while also alluding to a Western society dominated by impotence, insecurity, and loss of meaning–what Spinoza called our „sad passions.“ Arranged as an altarpiece-like triptych, the video combines hypnotic pacing with an intense painterly quality to form the centerpiece of the show. Its formal reference to the religious format addresses Hollywood’s (and Washington’s) creation of a war mythology for our time. And Gilda, her sensual spell matching the seductive power of glamorized ideology, becomes the perfect metaphor for a self-absorbed America, secluded but not protected from its demons.
Excerpt from Ida Panicelli, Artforum, September 2004, Massimo Audiello Gallery.