Born in Naples, Vittorio Ciccarelli is an architect, designer and artist living and working in Aversa, Caserta. He loves to conducts experimental researches in the photography field and has been honing his technique by attending several workshops. Hype realist in some moments, new Dadaist in others, Ciccarelli never misses his intent of celebrating beauty while deconstructing. Everything is in discussion, even the most unexpected object. (cf. The Harlow)
Featured Curator of the Week : Archan Nair [archanN]
JD Doria, Born 1961, interdisciplinary and independent artist, lives and works in Tel-Aviv. Maturing into painting coagulates a background in Cinema and Stage Art with a love for writing, combined with years of study and experimental research into territories of human thought and metaphysics, and on the overall an autodidactic and Dadaistic approach to life.
The Artist J.D Doria rather then composing, “˜grows’ his images from the materials, surfaces and mediums he is using. Technology is his organ of apprehension through which he curates the generative capacity of the work. His works is a complex and fascinating glimpse into Nature and it’s morphogenesis endless capacity. Organic, molecular, transcendent.
The Book of Life and the value of traditional storytelling structure
I find it a little unsettling that one of the most common complaints about The Book of Life is that “the story sucks” or, to put it mildly, that it’s “overplayed”, “cliche”, or otherwise it’s been done before.
Maybe I just have a different view on what makes storytelling valuable, but it always bothers me how eager audiences- particularly American ones- are to seek out novelties, plot twists, or otherwise, some huge special unique sparkly story that nobody has ever seen or heard before.
In some ways, I understand. There’s some stories I am so sick of hearing because they’ve been told so many times and I long for something fresh, or at least different, in an oversaturated media market. But I also feel there is a place for stories that may not have any surprising turns, but are still solid, still tackle topics people are familiar with, still make commentary on culture, still educate… and are ultimately a Story Well Told.
The Book of Life is a Story Well Told quite unlike anything I’ve seen in recent years, and was honestly far more fresh than some films with surprising plot twists. A lot of it was predictable, but it was delightfully predictable, in a way that calls back to being a little kid and listening to my parents tell me the same fairy tale over and over and over again. I just can’t stop watching this film. I’ve seen it twelve times, I know it by heart, and I still want to follow these characters on their adventures, again and again. There’s a place in society for straightforward, simple, fairy tale-like plots, and The Book of Life fits snugly in this box.
Because, truly, even a simple fairy tale is anything but. A fairy tale reflects the values of its society and the values we hope to pass on in the future. It reflects our fears, our hopes, and our voices. In many ways, keeping the plot simple and easy to follow allows for nuanced characterization- the kind of nuance that builds over time, every time you watch it, noticing new details. It’s no coincidence that this story is framed as a tale told to a group of young children; fairy tales and myths are playgrounds for metaphors, allegories and conceptualization. In essence, storytelling is in fact a form of teaching.
In many ways, The Book of Life recalls one of my favourite movies, Lisbela and the Prisoner. Lisbela and the Prisoner has a few twists and turns, but ultimately the plot and motivations are quite simple; it’s a love pentagon (or two triangles hooked together), motivated by passion and revenge. It’s framed with a story about movies, and movie tropes, but even if it weren’t, the main plot is still engaging and heartfelt. Its self awareness does not detract from its content, and the same is also true of The Book of Life.
In Lisbela and the Prisoner, Lisbela even lays out every trope from the movie right in the opening scene:
Lisbela: It’s a romantic comedy with adventure. There’s a flirty hero who never fell in love until he met the heroine. There’s a heroine who will suffer a lot, because the hero’s love is full of problems. There’s a bad guy who only wants to kill the hero, or get the heroine, or both things. There’s a woman who wants the hero, but he wants nothing to do with her. And there’s a bunch more characters who keep doing funny things to liven up the story. Some will end up as well as the hero and heroine, and some as badly as the bad guy, depending on whether they help or hinder the romance. Douglas: Have you seen it before? Lisbela: No, but it always goes like that. Douglas: Then what’s the point? Lisbela: The point isn’t knowing what will happen. The point is knowing how it happens and when it happens. We are about to meet a bunch of new people… who have a bunch of problems we can’t solve, only they can. We will see how, and when. It’s starting now.
Notice anything familiar about this piece of dialogue? A lot of what Lisbela says about her own film bears a striking similarity to what happens in The Book of Life… and a lot of other films for that matter. But they all handle these characters very differently, and use them to tackle completely different subjects. And it’s all okay. They each have their value- and the point lies in seeing “how” it happens.
Getting back to the original point: The Book of Life isn’t above criticism and it certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s also not trying to be. It’s trying to be a fairy tale, a folk story, an epic myth echoed through generations of storytellers and molded into a cultural product that lives and breathes its author’s soul. Everything from the framing device, to the character designs, to the theatrical setup of the two gods in the opening sequences, to the very moral of the story supports this. To look at this and say the story “sucks”, is an awfully close-minded way of consuming media, because even overplayed plot structures have their value.
I recommend watching some foreign films and taking note of how plot structures and tropes vary across cultures, and how a basic plot structure can be used to uphold original thoughts.
Or, yanno, watch some dadaist films. That’ll give you plenty nontraditional plot structure.
“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” – Salvador Dali
Surrealism began as a literary movement started by the French poet Andre Breton in the early twentieth century that gradually spread to the visual arts, including painting and sculpture. It is characterized by dreamy settings and a fascination with the subconscious, like romanticism before it. Surrealism was greatly influenced by Freudian psychology. Surrealism became popular after the Dada movement, and some former Dadaists like Max Ernst also began to experiment with Surrealism.
The earliest Surrealist artists were Man Ray, Joan Miro, Max Ernst, and Andre Masson, although artists like Salvador Dali (whose work is often referred to as “hand-painted dream photographs” for their fantastic settings and imagery), Yves Tanguy, Paul Klee, and others would also join this movement. (Frida Kahlo is characterized as a Surrealist artist by many scholars and critics, but she did not consider herself one.)
Surrealism can be further divided into automatism and veristic surrealism. Automatism is the freer and more abstract of the two. Veristic surrealism was more concerned with accurately depicting dream sequences.
Surrealism is still very popular in museums today, and has had a lasting impact on later art movements like abstract expressionism. (x)
The Treachery of Images (This is not a Pipe), Rene Magritte. 1948.
The Elephants (detail), Salvador Dali. 1948.
La Fortune, Man Ray. 1938.
Birds also Birds, Fish Snake and Scarecrow, Max Ernst. 1921.