The video Deserto (2017) by Jacopo Miliani reflects on the possibility of multiple identities through the invention of a new language. The desert, the place where both the film Teorema (1968) by Pier Paolo Pasolini and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) by Stephan Elliot end in screams of pain and pleasure - and perhaps rebirth - has been used by the artist as an ideal meeting place between the two protagonists: the Guest (a mysterious stranger) and Bernadette (a transgender) both played by the same actor, Terence Stamp. A macho actor and an iconic figure of the liberated 1960s, Stamp plays respectively an enigmatic stranger, both angelic and demonic, who seduces an entire bourgeois family, from peasant maid to paterfamilias, and the juicy role of a drag queen. In the work, a voice with the use of an invented manual communication conveys a sort of litany, while his perceptual state is animated by minimal and at the same time flamboyant images.
Filmed during his research residency, in Deserto Miliani has collaborated with several artists based in Madrid that work in different disciplines - a usual collaborative practice within the artist’s methodology. The video moves through several carefully managed elements and interpreters: a mysterious body, long red nails, a new sign language, a voice (Ángela de la Serna) a text (Jacopo Miliani, Pier Paolo Pasolini, CeCe Peniston), a dance-refrain (Antonio de Rosa, Mattia Russo//Kor'sia) and photography (Carlos Fernández-Pello).
The project reactivates the deviations of the film’s two protagonists to stimulate other movements in the spectator’s mind. Verbal and visual language interweaves with sensory and sensual lexicon in a dense frame of elements appealing to the spectator’s vast wealth of knowledge. By probing the imagination of the spectator, who can only freely interpret evoked associations of an identity suspended between the film’s dual references and abstract suggestions, Deserto offers a cinematic experience in which the spectator perceives a film and re-elaborates its perception into consciousness and competence. (VV)
Concept: Jacopo Miliani
Texts: Jacopo Miliani, Pier Paolo Pasolini, CeCe Peniston
Photography: Carlos Fernández-Pello
Voice: Ángela De la Serna
Dancers: Antonio de Rosa, Mattia Russo//Kor'sia
Casting: Gema Melgar
Wardrobe: Special thanks to Retro City
Curated by Veronica Valentini
Organised and produced by Emma and Centro de residencias artísticas, Matadero Madrid
Below: Deserto, 2017 (excerpt). Copyright Jacopo Miliani