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MoMA celebrates Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini with a comprehensive restrospcetive
Appunti per un’Orestiade africana (Notes for an African Oresteia). 1970. Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Image Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art, Luce CinecittÓ, and Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini/Cineteca di Bologna present Pier Paolo Pasolini, a full retrospective celebrating the filmmaker’s cinematic output, from December 13, 2012 through January 5, 2013, in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters. Pasolini’s film legacy is distinguished by an unerring eye for cinematic composition and tone, and a stylistic ease within a variety of genres—many of which he reworked to his own purposes, and all of which he invested with his distinctive touch. Yet, it is Pasolini’s unique genius for creating images that evoke the inner truths of his own brief life that truly distinguish his films. This comprehensive retrospective presents Pasolini’s celebrated films with newly struck prints by Luce CinecittÓ after a careful work of two years, many shown in recently restored versions. The exhibition is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and by Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce CinecittÓ; with Roberto Chiesi, Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini/Cineteca di Bologna; and Graziella Chiarcossi.

Pasolini’s (b. Bologna, 1922-1975) cinematic works roughly correspond to four periods in the socially and politically committed artist’s life. ‘The National Popular Cinema’ commenced with his debut, Accattone (1961), which immediately made a name for him as a filmmaker of prodigious talent. This was followed by Mamma Roma (1962) and a number of episodic comic films—including Hawks and Sparrows (1966); The Earth as Seen from the Moon (1966)—containing warm, honest portraits of people living on the fringes of society, and culminated in the masterful The Gospel According to Matthew (1964). Marking him as a provocative thinker and audacious artist with an uncompromising vision, Pasolini’s middle period is frequently termed ‘The Unpopular Cinema’, in which his excoriating depictions of the bourgeoisie lent passionate immediacy to films like Teorema (1968), Porcile (1969), and a modern interpretation of Medea (1969).

‘The Trilogy of Life’—The Decameron (1971), The Canterbury Tales (1972), and Arabian Nights (1973–74)— is a triumphant reinterpretation of classic tales and fables that retain their universality despite being interpreted by thoroughly modern means. As Pasolini himself noted, he focused on the past precisely because it reflects the present most profoundly. Often referred to as the ‘Abjuration of the Trilogy of Life’, the director’s despairing final film, Salˇ or the 120 Days of Sodom, was held up for years due to censorship issues, and it remains a shockingly raw and profoundly disconcerting experience.

The film retrospective will be accompanied by a series of events that pay tribute to Pasolini’s multifaceted career. On December 14, an evening of recitals by well-known Italian and American actors highlights Pasolini’s accomplishments as an acclaimed essayist, beloved poet, and composer. On December 16, MoMA PS1 will host a program of performances by contemporary artists inspired by Pasolini. A roundtable discussion about his artistic legacy will take place on December 12 at Casa Zerilli-Marim˛, New York University, and on December 13, The Italian Cultural Institute hosts a seminar titled Pasolini: A Writer for the New Millennium, with a panel of experts, moderated by Fabio Finotti, and a book launch of Pier Paolo Pasolini, My Own Cinema, an anthology including interviews, stories, journal notes, preliminary texts, subjects, and screenplays from Pasolini’s archives; edited by Pasolini’s sole heir Graziella Chiarcossi, with the collaboration of Roberto Chiesi (Fondo Pasolini/Cineteca di Bologna) and published by Cineteca di Bologna and Luce CinecittÓ.

MoMA PS1 presents Salˇ or the 120 Days of Sodom, Teorema, and Medea as continuous cinematic installations running throughout the film retrospective. Opening on December 15, Location 1 will host a gallery exhibition bringing together over 40 rarely exhibited drawings and paintings by Pasolini from the Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini holdings in the Archivio Contemporaneo "Alessandro Bonsanti" at the Gabinetto Scientifico Letterario Vieusseux in Florence, Italy.

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MoMA celebrates Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini with a comprehensive restrospcetive

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