and the Last Day on Earth
Federico Solmi's acclaimed animated videos aim to lampoon and condemn a male dominated, hierarchal world--in particular, corrupt, arrogant and hypocritical dictators, politicians, business and religious leaders, and other egomaniacal mad men who are portrayed as the main perpetrators and cause behind the decline of the human race. Solmi's recent videos have featured a selfish and greedy Wall Street executive, "Douche Bag City" (2010), presented in The Dissolve - 2010 SITE Santa Fe Biennial, and a fictional online porn-addicted Pope, "The Evil Empire" (2007), which has been at the center of several high-profile censorship cases in Europe, the most recent in 2011. Other animated videos by Solmi include "Rocco Never Dies", "The Giant", and "King Kong and the End of the World".
Presented in Gallery 1, "Chinese Democracy and the Last Day on Earth" is the next chapter in Federico Solmi's ongoing narrative of a post-secular, materialistic contemporary society that examines the self-destructive nature of mankind through highly satirical commentary on repressive behavior and authoritarian power structures, as well as misguided ethical and moral values. Through a dystopian metaphor, this swarming animation articulates a fictitious portrayal of an imaginary 21st century Chinese leader, idolized by his subjects, whose desire is total world domination. Driven by ruthless ambition and a blood-thirsty appetite, he has brought Earth under his control with an iron fist. With America as the only obstacle standing in his way to victory, our beloved Tyrant embarks on his final march toward immortal glory, culminating with an epic finale--a military invasion of Times Square and the annihilation of planet Earth.
Solmi has envisioned "Chinese Democracy and the Last Day on Earth" as the central component in a trilogy. On view in Gallery 2 will be the first part, or prelude, "A Song of Tyranny", as well as related paintings. "A Song of Tyranny" centers on the protagonist in the phase of becoming a dictator while he is permeated with the values and models that will influence successive actions and decisions during his rise to power. As our impassioned protagonist reveals during an interview:
"Ever since I was a child I knew that one day I would conquer planet Earth. I was forced to attend Catholic school abroad, and later, Yale. I was never satisfied with my frivolous and hypocritical middle-class upbringing... America is my inspiration. I am very grateful to this country. In fact, I gained my morals through celebrity culture, Wall Street greed, and political corruption. Reality TV taught me how to navigate through life and helped me understand how respected institutions are useless ideas of the past."
Beyond the apparent Manichean character, Solmi's playful aesthetics integrate a series of visual metaphors to present viewers with a comedic-grotesque parabola on power and excess, while inviting a deeper consideration of inconspicuous Sinophobic sentiments spurred by China's capitalists successess as well as America's own interests and practices. This sarcastic and irreverent tone allows Solmi to target the epitome of human folly, greed, and lust for power, preventing a simple reproduction of the good-versus-evil dichotomy. Solmi's complex production technique combines traditional hand drawn animation with digital models, utilizing computer gaming engines to create this high-definition "blockbuster-style" video. The result is an absolutely unique hand-made texture within a real-time 3D framework, created in collaboration with Australian based 3D artist, Russell Lowe.
A self-educated artist, Federico Solmi was born 1973 in Bologna, Italy, and has lived and worked in New York since 1999. Solmi's work has been exhibited internationally in numerous museums and venues, including: Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Drawing Center, New York; SITE Santa Fe, NM; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Kasseler Kustverein, and the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Kassel; National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow; CA2M Centro de Arte de Mayo, Madrid; Australian Center of Moving Images, Melbourne; Victoria Memorial Museum, Calcutta; Contemporary Art Center of Rouboix; Palazzo Delle Arti, Naples; Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome; and Impakt Film and Video Festival, Utrecht.
Solmi's work has received critical reviews and been featured in publications such as Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art Magazine, Tema Celeste, ArtNet.com, Artinfo.com, Artfacts.net, Art Actuelle, Contemporary, Marie Claire, Glamour, L'Espresso, and newspapers such as The New York Times, Le Figaro, New York Daily News, El Mundo, El Pais, il Giornale, Il Mattino, il Corriere della Sera, and La Repubblica. In 2007, SKY TV, an Italian digital satellite television platform, aired a one-hour feature presentation about his videos on its culture channel, Leonardo.