David Krippendorff: Massimo Audiello

By Panicelli, Ida | Artforum International, September 2004 | Go to article overview

David Krippendorff: Massimo Audiello


Panicelli, Ida, Artforum International


Rita Hayworth's star turn in Charles Vidor's movie Gilda (1946) was decisive in establishing the actress as a Hollywood sex bomb. On July 1 of the same year, the United States exploded the fourth atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, a test designed to show the world that the country had a nuclear arsenal. The bomb was named Gilda and had Hayworth's image painted on its surface. David Krippendorff takes this equation as a point of departure for paintings, drawings, and video that move adroitly through the linked terrains of social criticism and political dissent.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The movie Gilda, with its narrative stereotypes and cloying sets, is a perfect manifesto of American cultural colonialism in the wake of World War II, and Krippendorff uses it to map Hollywood's role in glamorizing war and power, with their potent mix of the erotic and the political. In postwar Buenos Aires, where corruption and international plots are rife, Hayworth's character bears witness to a collapse of feelings and values. In three paintings, each titled Mistake, 2004, and numbered 1 to 3, Krippendorff imbues Gilda with an aura that is both awesome and mysterious. In Mistake #1, he captures Hayworth in a frame from her performance of "Put the Blame on Mame," when she reaches the apex of her seductiveness, stripping off her black satin gloves in one of the most sensual movie moments of all time. In Krippendorff's canvas the star's black-and-white image is painted in negative. She appears less an image of sensuality and more a reincarnation of Kali, goddess of war and devastation. In #2, Hayworth hides her face in shame, her hands and gorgeous mane of hair becoming a shroud that covers her naked body. #3 captures her as she throws her head back, her face not yet in focus, just seconds before her full-screen debut. It is an elusive image: She is not fully present yet carries a veiled threat. …

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