Sunday, January the 20th, at 6.00 pm, the Madre Museum presents Death Speaks, a site-specific performance signed by the creative duo Matteo Stella Dance Arts, commissioned and produced by the Fondazione Donnaregina per le arti contemporanee. A tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe, conceived and played by the choreographer Matteo Levaggi and the visual artist Samantha Stella on the occasion of the performative program of Choreography for an Exhibition, with the participation of Salvatore Manzo, dancer of the Teatro di San Carlo Ballet Company.
“It is not a state of being, a place, or a metaphor, it is a person, a character in a drama who can tell us in his language what to expect from the world to come”. These are the words with which David Lang describes his album Death Speaks (2013), from which takes the title the site-specific performance of the duo formed by Levaggi and Stella. “Death Speaks” suggests an imaginative vision on the afterlife of the “photographer of counter-cultures”, through symbols and signs drawn from the vocabulary of the common and personal repertoire of the choreographer and visual artist. Caducity and eternity, good and evil, beauty and tension towards canons of the historical past of dance and art are combined with lynchian cinema echoes to give three-dimensionality to the universe of the Mapplethorpe’s images, in which faces and bodies of the American underground blend with classic aesthetic canons.
Death Speaks’ world premiere at the Madre Museum marks the birth of Matteo Stella Dance Arts, a creative duo that overcomes the barriers between visual art and choreography. Resuming the colors of the exhibition, the performance breaks the continuity between black and white with the red flame of a bust of the goddess Hebe, an icon of immortality.
Levaggi and Stella introduce the site-specific project Death Speaks with the words that the poet and musician Patti Smith dedicated to her lover, soul mate and friend Robert Mapplethorpe:
“I was asleep when he died. I had called the hospital to say one more good night… I awoke early, and as I descended the stairs I knew that he was dead. All was still save the sound of the television that had been left on in the night. An arts channel was on. An opera was playing. I was drawn to the screen as Tosca declared, with power and sorrow, her passion for the painter Cavaradossi. It was a cold March morning and I put on my sweater… The phone rang and I rose to answer. It was Robert’s youngest brother, Edward. He told me that he had given Robert one last kiss for me, as he had promised. I stood motionless, frozen; then slowly, as in a dream, returned to my chair. At that moment, Tosca began the great aria “Vissi d’arte”. I have lived for love, I have lived for Art”.
Patti Smith, Foreword, Just Kids, 2010