Interview @ LAGOFILMFEST
Rino Stefano Tagliafierro is an author of video-installations, videoclips and experimental works. Beauty, in competition in the National section of Lago Film Fest, is part of the latter category. In this work, Tagliafierro condenses 118 paintings, favouring some by Caravaggio and Bouguereau, that move thanks to the use of Photoshop and After Effects. Featuring paintings that come to life through human figures as well as landscapes, Beauty contains a noticeable division, between life and death.
Why did you choose Beauty as the title? What does beauty mean to you?
The word beauty encompasses all aspects of life, even death, pain and fear. I have attempted to approach human emotions fully- positive or negative, they are still beauty. The choice of a short, direct word as the title is due to the need of being understood quickly, universally.
You chose to use works that are linked to a specific taste for formal perfection, as it was for Renaissance and Neo-Classicism, rather than works that deconstruct said form, such as avantgarde movements. Is this not an arbitrary way of attributing beauty?
I had no intention of excluding the avantgarde, my choice was dictated simply by personal taste. My favourite artists are Caravaggio and Bouguereau, and in order to maintain a stylistic coherence I decided to research and include artworks that were as close to these two artists as possible.
Beauty is a work divided in two parts, the first linked to life and its pleasures, and the second, darker one, to death. What does the second section represent?
I am closer to the second part. I have tried to remove every reference to religion, to make everything ‘mortal’, especially death. Death had to be that of the body, physical, scientific, and for this reason I have included works portraying anatomical dissections, for example. For the first part, I wanted to create a climax- from birth- using reassuring, bucolic figures, moving to love and finally reaching sexuality and orgasm. At its apex, I let the viewer fall into death, into pain and abandon. I wanted to create an emotional oscillation. From the extreme of positivity to its opposite.
However at the end, after this turmoil, we come back to a new peacefulness…
Exactly. The nightmarish, demon-infested parts, symbolising our internal conflicts, are part of an “emotional narration”, there aren’t any actions that begin and end, but rather emotions. In this sense, death is the moment when our body is abandoned, but also when it goes into relaxation.
Even beyond its content, your choice of Caravaggio has a great relevance in the section dedicated to death.
Caravaggio uses a visual imagery that is far from reassuring, playing with clear cuts and contrasted lighting, violent situations that are nevertheless positive. This is in clear opposition to Bouguereau’s paintings, where natural lighting is used, for example. The emotions they evoke are diametrically opposite.
David Lynch has never hidden the fact that he started making films just to see paintings come to life. Is this the same drive that pushed you to createBeauty?
He is my favourite director. When I look at a painting, I imagine the previous moment and the one coming afterwards, like in photography. Apart from few exceptions, I never show the action, but rather extend the moment framed by the artist, an extension of their feelings. I like the concept of time being dilated, but in the case of Beauty, I was never arrogant enough to add something to what the author of the painting had created.
Why did you choose to initially distribute it online? Were you not at risk of precluding the possibility for Beauty to be shown on the big screen, in case it was not successful online?
I’ve used the web because it’s the most immediate window there is, I published Beauty without even imagining it could get the success it later did. I never thought this could spoil it, but from the very start, it became a hybrid, not just because it was presented at animation festivals as well as short film festivals and exhibited in art galleries, but also because of the existence of a website that helped Beauty become not just a video but a complete project. Indeed, I have created some animated gifs and an app for smartphones.
An expanded, continuative form of art that originates from paintings and moves into new media?
Exactly, but then again, the project continues from the moment in which I present Beauty in a different place. It’s a new experience every time.