From individual narratives to collective experiences, memories remain the raw materials of history. When they no longer form the contemporary zeitgeist, where can these memories be found? For Francesco Vezzoli, a country’s cultural production is its direct reflection. In TV 70: Francesco Vezzoli guarda la Rai, the artist and filmmaker brings back the film and TV icons that marked his childhood in his survey of the cultural and aesthetic development of Italian national broadcasting company Rai.
The multimedia exhibition, part of Fondazione Prada’s research programme, includes historical records from Rai, paintings, sculptures and installations, and unfolds over three parts: the artistic uses of television as a medium, the political messages and activist groups onscreen and the dynamics between the sexual liberation and exploitation of the female body. Fondazione Prada strives to recount Italian cultural history from an intuitive rather than analytical point of view by breaking with the linearity that often characterizes the process.
In TV 70, developments in television and their effect on public attitudes and beliefs are rendered in an environmental and architectural fashion. This ethos is mirrored by the design of the show achieved by Parisian firm M/M, which fuses spatial and temporal dimensions and adds dynamism to the historical retrospective by marrying the layout of traditional museum exhibitions with film screenings, alternating between light and darkness.
Why does public TV take centre stage in the exhibition? Vezzoli believes in the medium as a driving force for social and political change, as well as an important mediator in cultural creation and identity formation. Television continues to play this role as an influencer of dreams to this day, and to understand its historical progression allows us to not only understand how it shapes the computerized present, but also how it will impact our collective virtual future.