A Promise of Love and Madness: Leila Hekmat, “CROCOPAZZO!” at Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin for Mousse

A poster recalling 1970s giallo film aesthetics heralds the play CROCOPAZZO! by Leila Hekmat at Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin, but upon crossing the gallery’s threshold one realizes that the actual play was already performed in petit comité and what remains comprises the exhibition. CROCOPAZZO!’s structure is complex, as it includes a number of discrete elements: the play, an edited film of the play, the original set and props, and the handmade garments the performers wore. The narrative of the work raises questions relating to accessibility, caring structures, and mental health.

Isabella Bortolozzi’s central room served as the stage for CROCOPAZZO!. This set, with its walls fully covered by black silk-rayon velvet curtains and dim lighting remains intact throughout the length of the show. An inert mannequin dressed in a choral robe and a day-chair inhabit the space, as well as a line of grotesque characters digitally printed on the silk-rayon velvet curtains. Their bloody faces and historical outfits seem to belong to another dimension. This uncanny crew, along with a few invited guests, were the only witnessers of the original multi-take play, produced in the fashion of a tabloid-TV talk show.

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