Rosalind Nashashibi, Carlo’s Vision, 2011, still from a color film in 16 mm, 11 minutes.

Rosalind Nashashibi, Carlo’s Vision, 2011, still from a color film in 16 mm, 11 minutes.

Rosalind Nashashibi

Peep-Hole/Nomas Foundation

Rosalind Nashashibi, Carlo’s Vision, 2011, still from a color film in 16 mm, 11 minutes.

Rosalind Nashashibi showed her new 16-mm film, Carlo’s Vision, 2011, at spaces in both Milan and Rome. The dual venue signified not only a coproduction but also an amplification of the effect of a work that, in just eleven minutes, conveys a simultaneously lyrical and crude cross-section of a profoundly troubled country. The film was inspired by an episode in Petrolio (Oil), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s fragmentary and cryptic unfinished last novel, which was published posthumously in 1992. Petrolio made a crucial contribution to our understanding of events that occurred in Italy in the 1960s and ’70s, but, as Nashashibi makes clear, Pasolini accomplished much more. What the artist captures about Pasolini is his foresight, and she updates certain passages from the novel that anticipate the degree to which the exercise of power—manifested in the sexualization of society on the one hand and interventions in urban politics on the other—would shape present-day Italian society.

In the final draft of the novel, which dates to 1975, the protagonist, Carlo, has a vision on the Via di Tor Pignattara (the main street in a well-known working-class suburb of Rome), which Nashashibi has filmed according to Pasolini’s description. Various characters, including Carlo, who is pulled along on a dolly by three more characters said to be gods, travel along the street until it ends at the Via dell’Acquedotto Alessandrino. The film is accompanied by voice-over monologues (in Italian, with English subtitles) read by the well-known Italian writer Andrea Cortellessa and the historian and journalist Daniele Balicco, who were chosen by the curators (Vincenzo de Bellis and Bruna Roccasalva at Peep-Hole, Cecilia Canziani and Ilaria Gianni at Nomas Foundation) because they are considered among the most thoughtful observers of contemporary Italian society. It was important for Nashashibi to have them speak off-the-cuff and for their dialogue to develop through the lens of experience. The result was a ninety-minute conversation, which the artist then edited and transformed into two contrasting monologues. These are constructed so that one of the two speakers, Cortellessa, perceives power through the manipulative capacity of sex and the centrality of exhibitionism, which has now become dominant in political and social issues in Italy. Balicco’s monologue, in contrast, focuses on conspiracy theories regarding the state and on the manipulation of urban realities. Alienation as a virtue, duplicity as truthfulness, the loss of identity as a source of joy: These are some of the themes extrapolated from a conversation that here draws much of its power from the images to which it is tied.

Carlo’s Vision also reflects the Turin-based British artist’s attitudes and interests regarding filmmaking as a tool of knowledge and as an intuitive thermometer that reflects significant differences in experience. In her previous works, the subjects of this investigation were often moments of intensifty in everyday life, common spaces in which a simple action is shared by numerous people, and the idea of an incursion into the past as a reflection on time and its passage. In Carlo’s Vision, however, Nashashibi fully embraces filmic narration, constructing a sequence along which Italian social history comes to light.

Paola Nicolin

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.