Twenty African immigrant men of varying ages sit at a twelve meter long transparent table creating an image that is reminiscent of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”.
These men are wearing elegant and formal black dinner jackets that are deliberately made dusty, ill fitting and torn. Some are inappropriately shod, or are not wearing shoes at all. They eat whole pieces of chicken without cutlery in complete silence. This piece of performance art conveys sacredness while directing us to the hash reality that these men experience every day. The turmoil of immigration is central to “VB65”, the name which Vanessa Beecroft sequentially gives to each of her performance art installations. VB65 took place at the Pavilion of Contemporary Art in Milan during March this year. The diners sit down silently during the three-hour performance, in front of an audience of invited guests. They are real immigrants-some legal, others not-who have arrived in Italy from Africa. They were asked to work for two full days and to take onboard the concept of the performance, imagery and metaphor which the artist sought to communicate. The performers do not break their silence, or the tension between them, as the sole means with which to engage the audience.
Photo. The image is courtesy of PAC, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea.
Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Spring 2009