Few artists have such a close connection to the city of Rome. Few have such extensive knowledge and such regular hands-on experience of cinema. It thus came as no surprise when, in 2003, Alain Fleischer combined the two in a single artistic endeavour.
The connections he created in this series are complex: not only did he project stills from films made at Cinecittà, the famous cinema complex modelled on Hollywood, created in Rome in the late 1930s, onto the walls of Rome; he also chose films set in the city itself, such as William Wyler’s Roman Holiday, Federico Fellini’s La dolce vita and Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Éclipse. This mise en abyme goes hand in hand with an ambiguity inherent in the title of the series itself: Does Cinecittà, the città del cinema, refer to the studios or the Italian capital itself? Is Rome itself not the “city of cinema”: not only the setting for famous films, but also, and above all, the screen of stone on which Alain Fleischer projects images?
We find this reversal at the very heart of the series, which runs counter to the traditional view of photography as a voyeuristic pursuit and turns it into an exhibitionist activity: this is about projecting images more than capturing them. The photographs on display here are just a record: a testimonial to the projections that make up the core of the work. For years, Alain Fleischer travelled around the world with a slide projector and images that he projected onto the walls of buildings, mainly from the hotel rooms where he was staying. When the images were pornographic, they formed part of his Exhibitions series. When they came from masterpieces by Fellini or Antonioni, they gave rise to the Cinecittà series. But in both cases, at different levels of interpretation, the idea was to display life-size images of imaginary nocturnal cityscapes.
By Guillaume de Sardes