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PROIBITISSIMO! An Interview With Irene Dionisio

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19 MARCH 2018

PROIBITISSIMO! An Interview With Irene Dionisio


From 24 March to 15 April 2018 the PAV Parco Arte Vivente hosts PROIBITISSIMO!, an unpublished project by Irene Dionisio, curated by Viola Invernizzi, produced in collaboration with the National Cinema Museum Association, Wild Strawberries Association, Dugong Film, Film Commission Torino Piemonte, and with the contribution and support of Hangar Creatività and Centre d'Art Contemporain in Geneva.


The first Italian law introducing the censorial intervention on projections dates back to 1913; the target was to eliminate the parts considered unfit for the public, creating a preventive system of censorship that conditions the public screening of the films to the issue of clearance, as well as their export abroad.

Between the 30s to the 90s, in addition to the Italian total censorship, another form of censorship was favored, that of targeted cuts, which focused on the elimination of the film parts that were not wanted to be shown, allowing however to view the mutilated, manipulated film versions.

The traces of those "prohibitissimi" pieces are preserved in the Italian film archives, from where the PROIBITISSIMO team, directed by Irene Dionisio, has recovered a series of censored scenes - to subsequently become a point of reference for the re-enacting, reproduction process, realized through a stylization work of costumes and sets - in chronological order from '51 to ’98.

Below an Exclusive Interview with PROIBITISSIMO’s Director, Irene Dionisio.



Director, screenwriter, visual artist, and director of the Turin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival: Who is Irene Dionisio, and what defines the essence of your personality?

I consider myself as a person that raises doubts through many artistic mediums; I feel like someone who likes to question reality; someone whose director training is then transformed and interpreted in different ways.


Does your work reflect who you are?

Not really; I am not sure if I would say that my work reflects who I am, however, I would say that my work reflects my questions, my interests, my problems, the part of me that I try to understand deeper and better.

Nowadays, one experiences something, and one hour after you pass onto living something else, perhaps through a different aspect of yourself or through a different point of view, with a different perspective; Life changes so fast.

Through my work, I certainly try to understand both life and myself better because I get to know more aspects of myself through what I do and how I do it.

A creative tries to sort of define and stop within an artistic frame. In this way, one tries to understand better what is that is living.


On March 23, will be the opening of your new video installation, research and production project, Proibitissimo, dedicated on the Italian censorial cinematic front, and hosted at Torinos PAV, from 24 March - 15 April 2018.

Can you please introduce us to Proibitissimo?

Proibitissimo is a project of research on cinema and contemporary art.

The concept of Proibitissimo was born in Tunisia where I first heard about the preventive, production and distribution censorship in Tunisia, and when I also met artist Luca Vitone, during my stay in an artistic residence; After a discussion I had with him, I decided to transfer the project in Italy.

Proibitissimo is a one year and a half long project, composed by a team of fifteen persons ,both males, and females, all of whom have participated fully in a long research and various interventions from Italian critics, academics and intellectuals, such as Stefano Della Casa, who is the Cinema Tutor of Proibitissimo, as well as Marco Scotini, who is the Artistic Tutorof the project.


Why Proibitissimo? What prompted you to choose this concept?

Censorship! I am very interested in what we decided to ignore or what we chose to forbid and suppress, because usually what is forbidden, tends to be full of truth. As humans, we are always simulating a sense of censorship and its interesting to analyze the roots of this notion.

Therefore, when we began the research we analyzed an aspect of this censorship through the censorship in cinema, and we became acquainted with the hypocrisy of that moment in the history of cinema.

We were familiarized with the great struggle around the female body, that was prevalent back then. For example, the scenes where the female body was portrayed as a symbol of sex or power were eliminated.

In the 50s a woman who was free about her sexual identity and life ideals, was also censored. For instance L’Ape Regina Di MarcoFerreri.

Now its an interesting time to explore this concept of censorship and try to comprehend what provoked it, what drove it and which were the motives behind it.


The video installation of Proibitissimo focuses and visually narrates the Italian law on censorial interventions on projections dating from 1913 to the 90s.

Which were the aspects/subjects targeted by the censorial intervention and which of those will we be witnessing in Proibitissimo?

Proibitissimo is targeting four types of censorial interventions:

Political; Violence;Religion; and Sexuality, with Violence and Sexuality being the strongest themes of censorship, something that I find very interesting, as it simultaneously reveals the power and impact that these two topics have possessed through time.


According to the Freudian Glossary, the term Repression/Constraint stands as the ego's ridding itself of unacceptable desires and ideas by dumping them into unconsciousness”. What is your personal definition of Repression?

For me, repression refers to something that one doesnt want to see, initially on an unconscious level, and then on a conscious level.


Research, Archives, Film Scripts, Casting, Costumes, Set/location, Installation, and so on; Can you please describe the creative process behind Proibitissimo?

Although it was a long process, it was not a difficult one. As I mentioned earlier, this was a one year and a half long project. Nevertheless, the team has sustained a great spirit and energy, throughout the whole process.

We began with an open call, searching 15 young people to join our team.

Then followed various interventions from professors, academics, and critics from the cinema realm.

Subsequently there was a long period dedicated on education, about the set, the cinema, along with research on the theme and various film clips, such as Caligula”, Totò che visse due volte" by Sicilian directors Daniele Cipri and Franco Maresco, Pasolini's “Salo” or “120 Days of Sodom”, Bertolucci’s “Last Tango InParis”, along with “Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti”, Antonioni and many more, were all subjects of the censored scenes, and part of our archives research.

Afterward followed the casting of the actors, the costumes, the set preparation, and currently the editing of the film and the installation of the exhibition that will soon be open to the public.


What were the main parameters of the casting process? What were you looking for?

We searched for people who were similar, not aesthetically but mostly in the spirit and in attitude,to some important actors like for example Marlon Brando in “LastTango In Paris”.


Which have been your informantsor sources during the research phase?

For our research part, we read lots of books, went through archival documents, watched and examined more than 100 films, in order to understand better and more profoundly the target and purpose behind this censorship.

Furthermore, in Italy there are two principal sites, the first one is Italia Taglia; the second one is Cine Censura, where we did a big part of our research, and from where we also retrieved the original documents of censorship.


How about materials that will be on display revealing and representing those targeted cuts that were not to be shown to the public?

On display, we have several materials: Photos, extracts of the scripts, elements from the set design,archival documents, parts of the diary and storyboard, and scene photos. Our exhibition will also be enriched by valuable documents on the subject of censorship granted by the collections of the National Cinema Museum.


If there is a message that you would like the viewer to take home which would it be?

Nothing in particular; I would like the viewersresponse to be spontaneous, free of constraints. Besides, the reality is more fiction. I wouldnt like to sort of impose anything. What is important to me is for the audience to have a reaction; My point of view, as well as our collective point of view, is that the audience is not to be forced by a predetermined standpoint, because that would be like censorship, thus conflicting the actual purpose of Proibitissimo.


Do you think that cinema today still retains the persuasive force, that it used to have in the past?

Completely not, with the internet is impossible; Cinema lost its power.

Today, the cinema medium grants us with the possibility to see and observe reality in different ways. This part of our work is about censorship, historically, but my goal is to continue and evolve the research on censorship in our contemporary reality.

That is one of the reasons that visitors will also be able to view the making off of the film and the process that led to the re-enacting and found footage operations, something which will constitute the main moment of interaction with the viewer, who will be asked to return their opinion on the subject's subjective experience on censorship, and in this way gather material that will be a starting point for our new research paths.


How about the process of re-enacting? Whats your evaluation of the actual out come?

Reenacting was difficult,however, its interesting to witness the balance between the reality of the moment (what the actor creates at the moment) and the reality of reenacting (what the actor creates during the moment of reenacting).


Where do you see and how do you define censorship now adays? 

In our interpretation of a clean subject, the truth behind a given subject, on the social media platforms.

Everything seems to be amplified, merchandised and projected as a commodity. We come across as a product that tries to sell itself, through new virtual clothes,clothes that we use in real life.


Proibitissimo will be presented as the only Italian artistic project, at the Center d'Art Contemporain in Geneva in the context of Biennale Of Moving Images. Can you tell us a little bit more about this?

From 24 March - 15 April2018, at PAV in Torino, I will be showing only a part of the film. The completed version of the film will be presented at the Biennale of Moving Images, BIM, organized by the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, in November 2018, under the Artistic Direction of Andrea Bellini and Andrea Lissoni, where along with the video installation there will be an emphasis on the process that led to its creation, aiming to involve the viewer and invite him to become a participant of the projects nature from beginning to end.


Do you tend to question yourself on a personal level?

Yes, I believe that self-reflection is important to get to know oneself and grow.

However, its also important to divide your work from yourself; our inner world is private, intimate, and important to protect and monitor.


Sexuality for you is... The psyche and the body living Eros. Eros in the sense of sex, love, and always emotion accompanied by the physical touch, thats how sexuality represents itself.


Whats up next for Irene?

The Gay Festival is coming up, from 20-24 of April, so I am busy working on the planning and scheduling. I am also writing my second film, which will be about the female sexuality.


Interview/Content Editor:Annie Markitanis

©All Images Are Subject To Copyright, PROIBITISSIMO, Film Stills, Photographer Nadia Pugliese, 2018

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