THAN HUSSEIN CLARK
L’ISOLA DEI BACI
(Disappearing Acts)
3.04 – 20.06.19

L’Isola dei Baci [The Island of Kisses] is the title of a short social-erotic novel written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1918 and set on the island of Capri around a group of wealthy adventurers, cultured homosexuals and self-styled ideals of beauty and misogyny, combining a spirit of apparent lightness with a sense of premonitory disquiet, almost announcing the reactionary culture that would lead Italy to a radical stance against the so-called ‘perverted,’ during the fascist period.

Than Hussein Clark (b. 1981), American artist based in London, moves from this literary inception for his first solo exhibition in Italy, L’Isola dei Baci (Disappearing Acts).

Curious and passionate artist, Than Hussein Clark proposes a much wider arrangement of references, perspectives and scenes that take place at the same time. Here, the different frames refer to different and historically distant situations, and draw on the nonchalance of the artist’s unique gaze which involves literary and cinema-related but also historical, artistic and autobiographical references.

Thus Capri immediately finds its double in the more distant Taprobane Island in Sri Lanka: the Mediterranean climate translates into tropical contaminations, threatening characters that inhabit the scene mingle with the faces familiar to the artist, a canopy inspired by the dwelling of the Count de Mauny in Sri Lanka echoes a newly designed Depero-inspired tapestry; threatening blades looming just above the viewers’ heads create a climate of anguishing expectation and watchful participation.

The persecutions that anticipated and followed the racial laws of ’38 in Italy, with hundreds of homosexuals exiled at the behest of the Duce in the islands of Ustica, Ventotene, Favignana (G. Goretti, T. Giartosio, La città e l’Isola, Omosessuali al confino nell’Italia Fascista, Donzelli Ed. 2006), would only be one of the consequences of the cultural climate to which the artist takes us back, mixing different styles, languages and references.

A wide range of works, the result of a completely new production involving marquetry, bronze and gold craftsmanship, combines fascination and mystery, curiosity and archive, specific references to the city of Milan, with reinterpretations, literary quotations and denunciation movies, finally ending with historical and tragic events, such as the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The exhibition will be presented by a text of Rachele Ferrario.

◊ All images:
Courtesy the artist and VI VII Oslo
Photos by Mark Blower