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Andrea Mastrovito, I AM NOT LEGEND

A project by Casa Testori
Curated by Davide Dall’Ombra
For Italian Council – Sixth Edition

DE-ANIMATING: A ZOMBIE INDEX OF FORGETTING
Leora Maltz-Leca 

What does forgetting look like? How do you paint the ebbing of memory, or filmically convey the slippage – or willful erasure – of yesterday’s truths by the onslaught of the present? How might one visually articulate the withdrawal of history, or even better: actually seize the tail end of the past as the tide drags it away? For Italian artist Andrea Mastrovito, one possibility lies in the ghostly pallor of white paint, a seeping, creeping fluid that leaks under doors, and rushes across film, obliterating, erasing, effacing. In I Am Not Legendthe second of an ambitious trilogy that premiered in NYC with NYsferatu in 2017, he whites out the undead figures of George Romero’s 1968 horror film, Night of the Living Dead, in turn based on Richard Matheson’s 1954 post-apocalyptic novel, I am Legend, which provides the title, reversed, for Mastrovito’s 2020 rendition. To produce I Am Not Legend, the artist employed an incredibly labor-intensive process of printing, and then hand painting, scanning and refilming nearly a hundred thousand stills to reconstitute an eighty-minute animation of Romero’s classic. His exacting process creates a layered metaphorics of blankness, a draining of mind from matter from that further transforms a human into a thing to insinuate his method of animation as a de-animation. Here the process of animation works against itselfor, like the title, in reverse: for if animation traditionally promised to transform puppets into people through a technological-magical sleight of hand that reproduces the vivid appearance of life, I Am Not Legend instead ponders the transformation of people into puppets through a distinctly disenchanted relationship with technology. 

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THE ARTWORK

I Am Not Legend is a 1h12′ film by Andrea Mastrovito. The work was made by printing in A4 size all the frames of Night of the Living Dead (1968) by George Romero and intervening on each sheet with white paint in order to erase the presence of zombies from the original film. Once more than 100,000 plates were obtained, they were then digitized and reassembled following the new script created by the artist who used thousands of quotations taken from a hundred famous films, novels and songs. To complete the work, the original soundtrack is by Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon, with the contribution for the opening and closing music by Maurizio Guarini, author, together with the Goblin, of the original music for the films Profondo Rosso (1975), Suspiria (1977) and Dawn of the Living Dead (1978).

THE EXHIBITION

Io Non Sono Leggenda
Palazzo Fabroni, Pistoia
September 26, 2020 – May 9, 2021

The solo exhibition Io Non Sono Leggenda aims to contextualize, at Palazzo Fabroni, the launch of the film within a path that can reflect the research that Andrea Mastrovito has conducted in recent years around the figure of the anti-hero. The exhibition occupies all the rooms of the museum used for temporary exhibitions, to retrace not only the genesis of the work donated to the museum – original plates, sources of inspiration and creative process – but also some of the most significant steps of the artist’s recent years: from the previous film, NYsferatu, completely entrusted to the technique of drawing; to the inlays, allegorical works that had great success in Lyon on the occasion of the Biennale; to the stained glass windows, drawings on colored compositions of rulers, up to the cut-out books and collages.

THE TOUR

The artwork involved the creation of a single copy, destined for Palazzo Fabroni, as well as an exhibition copy used for the world tour in various museum venues and international cultural centers.
After the screening of the work’s trailer in Lyon, on August 15, 2020 I Am Not Legend was premiered in New York at Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring.
On September 25, 2020, the official premiere was held in Pistoia, on the opening of the exhibition Io Non Sono Leggenda. After that, the work circulated internationally, screened at MUDAM in Luxembourg,Belvedere 21 in Vienna, the Italian Cultural Institutes in TorontoNew York and Pretoria, and the Laznia Center in Gdansk.

THE BOOK

On the occasion of the exhibition, a bilingual volume entirely dedicated to the work I Am Not Legend has been produced. Designed by the artist Maria Tassi, the book retraces the narrative flow of the film through the figurative key of the photo-story. With essays by Leora Maltz-LecaStefano LeonforteStefano Raimondiand a presentation of the works in the exhibition by curator Davide Dall’Ombra
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Project realized thanks to the support of the Italian Council (Sixth Edition, 2019), a program for the promotion of Italian contemporary art in the world of the Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo.

Posted on: 30 August 2021, by : Alessandro Ulleri