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The Great Farce, in a Portable Theater edition

Federico Solmi will be participating in the Centennial Exhibition of The Phillips Collection in Washington DC. His piece, The Great Farce, in a Portable Theater edition, will be part of this incredible show, Seeing Differently that celebrates the impact of artists from the 19th century to the present, including Simone Leigh, Sam Gilliam, Anselm Kiefer, Frank Stella and Howard Hodgkin, amongst other iconic historical works by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Pierre Bonnard, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, and Jacob Lawrence.

The portable theater contains videos from the original composition, The Great Farce, a projection on nine screens completed in 2017 for the facade of the Schauspiel Frankfurt Theater in Germany. The work is the result of an elaborate process that combines traditional drawing and painting with gaming technology and digital interface. 3-D models of characters and environments are built and texture-mapped with scans of hand-painted imagery. A virtual world is created within a game engine, where each scene is staged as a movie set. The characters act as puppets, animated through motion capture and computer scripts rather than strings. Scenes are recorded by an in-game camera from a first-person point of view, giving the perspective of director or voyeur.

Every installation and exhibition at the Phillips was conceived as a conversation between the art and the artists speaking to each other across time, geography, and nationality, the past speaking to the present and vice versa—a revolutionary approach in the 1920s. Duncan Phillips never sought to establish a comprehensive survey of styles or movements. Rather, he looked for what he called “rivers of artistic purpose,” envisioning his museum as a place where the pictures would be allowed to speak for themselves. As he stated often in his writings beginning in 1926, the museum was his best effort to be a “beneficent force in the community where I live” because “art is part of the social purpose of the world” and “a gallery can be a meeting place of many minds, harmonized by a genuine respect for the spirit of art.”

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