Critics’ Picks

Anna Franceschini, Did you know you have a broken glass in the window?, 2020, ink-jet print on cotton paper on dibond, 47 1/4 x 31 1/2".

Anna Franceschini, Did you know you have a broken glass in the window?, 2020, ink-jet print on cotton paper on dibond, 47 1/4 x 31 1/2".

Milan

Anna Franceschini

Vistamarestudio
Viale Vittorio Veneto 30
February 4–March 21, 2020

In her first solo exhibition here, Milan-based artist Anna Franceschini conducts a quasi-fetishist investigation into the window display as a para-cinematographic device. “Did you know you have a broken glass in the window?” is inspired by an event that transpired at the jeweler Tiffany & Co. in New York in 1984: A customer mistook a display of broken glass conceived by the brand’s artistic director Gene Moore for accidental damage. Four photographs printed on cotton paper and a new eight-minute-long silent film, all installed in a gallery with walls painted dark gray, bring to life an intentionally flat mise-en-scène, a theater of inanimate objects.

In the video with which the exhibition shares its title, exotic souvenirs, props, and display units perform a mechanical choreography—head mannequins spin on automated plinths, cheap plastic Michelangelo busts shine under different scenographic lights, glasses of varying shapes and materials are smashed into a thousand pieces over an ice­­­-cold light-blue surface. Did you know you have a broken glass in the window?, all works 2020, reveals the hand of the puppet master, a deus-ex-machina intervention that impedes the images’ existence as still-lifes. Franceschini has confided in me that she shies away from object-oriented ontology, still feeling it necessary to center the human experience.

The photographs on view offer a similar semantic shift as they appropriate the aesthetics of commercial still-life photography to stage an ironic portrayal of the commodity as a silent movie star: an intangible, sexualized image, yet a consumable one. Nods to Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, and Frederick Kiesler’s postmodern retail utopia abound in Franceschini’s practice at large, but an Uncut Gems-like attention to detail is what the artist has searched for lately.