The Artist is Present

Glimpse from the film, Maurizio Cattelan

The Artist is Present

This is the story of a dream.

Imagine a world crowded with old master portraits, ancient Roman marble heads, gold reliquaries filled with zombies’ hands and hearts, blooming carpets and colorful tapestry, baby dragons, and unknown creatures’ skulls. 

This dream belongs to Gucci’s visionary creative director, Alessandro Michele. As the poet did, midway upon the journey of our life, he found himself within a forest dark. But he hasn’t lost the straightforward pathway: he simply never followed it, deliberately choosing the road less traveled.

On this path, there is a man, tall and lean in his jeans and a tight T-shirt, salt-and-pepper gray hair, and a long, puzzled face anchored by a propitious Roman nose: Maurizio Cattelan, tireless artist, affected by a serious image hoarding disorder. The perfect partner in crime.

The Artist is Present Glimpse from the film

Glimpse from the film

Maurizio Cattelan is dreaming of hanging around Shanghai for inspiration. Their shared dream world is staged in the Chinese metropolis, homeland to “the copy is the original” thought. The chosen timing is October 10: in that day his exhibition project will transform a dream within a dream in reality. What is a dream but a copy of reality, after all?

From its very first line, The Artist is Present is an act of appropriation. The least you can expect for an exhibition project curated by Maurizio Cattelan and powered by Alessandro Michele’s Gucci.

Both are very well aware that complex relationship between image and reality, representation and presentation have been one of the most important topics in art. And they both well know that it is truer today, as we all are at the same time the generous feeder and the avid consumer of a world of simulacra, in between illusion and reality.

Rooted in this permanent visual deluge, The artist is present focuses on artists projects that propose simulation and copy as a paradigm of global culture. The show explores how originality can be reached through the act of repetition, and how originals themselves can be preserved through copies. It consists in a physical immersion in the reign of imitation, a land where the core values that used to identify with an artwork in the Western world, such as originality, intention, expression, and authorship, are dismantled.

In The Artist is Present the nature of the creative process itself results deconstructed, and with it, the idea of godlike creation: the only belief remains the conviction that originality is definitely overrated.

The Artist is Present Glimpse from the film, Maurizio Cattelan

Glimpse from the film, Maurizio Cattelan

The film, shot entirely on iPhone by filmmaker Yuri Ancarani, supports a collaboration between Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, taking place on October 10 in Shanghai. 

Watch the full video here.