JOHN DI STEFANO at A Space Gallery (410 Richmond West), part of the Images Festival, to April 21. 416-979-9633. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
the image of pier paolo pasolini dead in the street, his face bloodied almost beyond recognition, is a shocker.Pasolini was one of 20th-century Italy's most gifted poets, artists and philosophers. He was also the director of such notorious films as Salò, aka 120 Days Of Sodom.
A male prostitute was convicted for Pasolini's brutal 1975 murder, but many believed it was a hit orchestrated by high-ups who didn't like Pasolini's outspoken views on politics and sexuality.
In the provocative Je Me Souviens, on at the A Space Gallery, John Di Stefano invites us to engage with the complex personality of Pasolini, a man who was hardly the subversive pervert that right-wing Italian politicians would have us believe.
Cencre (Ashes) is a video of Di Stefano reading a text that Pasolini wrote to Antonio Gramsci, founder of the Italian Communist party. Projected onto a pile of ashes, the work speaks to Pasolini's lifelong commitment to Communism and his disappointment with the widening gulf between theory and political reality.
In Volgar Eloquio, Di Stefano embeds in a black plinth a video screen on which a looped version of the torture scene from Salò is playing. On the opposite wall, a projection of a typewriter pounds out the words to Pasolini's poem Lines From The Testament (Solitude), casting a chilling new light on the nature of human suffering.
Tenebrae is a collection of four large photo-negative prints, with Pasolini just barely visible.
In asking "Who was Pasolini?" John Di Stefano doesn't so much describe as circumscribe the man.