In Tuscany, three exhibitions dedicated to David Cronenberg
Interview with the famous Canadian director
He is the father of body horror, the director who has built an entire career on the study of the body and its evolution in all its facets, in a long path between the fictional and the psychological. David Cronenberg, Canadian director, actor, producer and writer, famous for hits such as The Fly, M. Butterfly, Crash, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method and, his latest, Maps to the Stars. He was the guest of honour at the last edition of the Lucca Film Festival and starred in two major exhibitions: Evolution, which included over 100 objects, props, videos and behind the scenes items from the set of his films, on display at the Fondazione Ragghianti and Puccini House Museum in Lucca; Red Cars, a multimedia installation dedicated to Ferrari and to the racing world, again in Lucca at the State Archives; and Chromosomes, 70 frames taken from his most famous films, on display at the GAMC Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Viareggio (until May 5).
What did you feel when you saw Evolution for the first time?
It was a very strange feeling. It is said that a man, before he dies, sees his life pass before his eyes... well, that is not my case (laughs, ed) but seeing all I helped to create in those images just gave me that feeling!
Lucca is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, and the section of the exhibition devoted to M. Butterfly was put on display precisely in the rooms of the Puccini Museum. What role has the famous composer had on both your private and professional life?
From a professional point of view, his influence is expressed in M. Butterfly, a film built around Puccini’s opera: a film that I still adore and that, at the time that I filmed it, I was extremely excited about because it encapsulated, from an artistic and musical point of view, Italy, France, China and Japan. My mother was a pianist and accompanied young singers with her music: my first memory as a child, even before I knew who Puccini was or what he represented, is of my home full of music, with works such as La bohème and Madama Butterfly. As an emotional impact, I can say that it has really shaped my soul.
Chromosomes was produced by Volumina while Evolution by the Toronto Film Festival: what are the differences between working with an Italian team and Canadian one?
Toronto has a very big Italian community, perhaps the largest in the world. Even in my neighbourhood, there was a strong Italian presence: I grew up listening to your music that came from my neighbours’ houses. I feel very close to the Italian way of life, with your pace and your creativity. I believe that this fusion between Italy and Canada creates a greater result than the sum of the individuals.
What does it feel like to know that some images taken from your films have become true works of art thanks to Chromosomes?
The idea of the exhibition’s organisers to take the frames and make paintings was inspired. These images, once they become paintings, are works of art that stand on their own and have their own individuality. Just think of a person who has maybe never seen one of my films ‘and comes into contact with a painting... well, in that moment, that person will create their own story and their own interpretation of the narrative image. The image itself will have a completely different life from the one I had given it.
When did your passion for Ferrari start?
When I was very young I had a red tricycle. I think it was then that my passion for wheels and the colour red was born. I do not remember the first time I saw a Ferrari but whenever I saw one, in Canada, in the ‘50s or ‘60s, it was always an incredible feeling. I have raced, not at professional level, and still continue to do so... I have been the owner of three Ferraris, and it has always remained in my heart.
The theme of the evolution of the body, which runs throughout all your works, was very visceral in your first films, while in the latest ones you seem to have taken a turn towards psychological topics. Is it a starting point or an end point for your work?
Actually, I do not see a beginning or an end... The human condition is marked and dictated by the body. I am an atheist. I do not believe in an afterlife and, while the first film had a more direct connection with the body, the shift in focus to the spiritual and psychological interpretation was a natural evolution. I am interested in the human condition and I am simply interpreting it from another point of view, but the theme remains the same.