Once upon a time there were nine artists, invited by Alcantara to occupy with their art the ten rooms of the Prince’s apartment at the first floor of the Palazzo Reale in Milan … This is the modern fairy tale that today I want to tell you.
“The King and I” is the title of the exhibition that will animate in “place and spirit” – to mention the words by the two curators Davide Quadrio and Massimo Torrigiani – “this room rarely occupied” until the 23 October.
Maurizio Anzeri, Arthur Arbesser, Paola Besana, Gentucca Bini, Matthew Herbert, Taisuke Koyama, Francesco Simeti, Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren are the artists-authors of this new story that, for its opening night, had three characters come to life and enliven it.

Arthur Arbesser, "The Frog King" and The Emperor's New Clothes" Photo courtesy Alcantara

Arthur Arbesser, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, Photo Courtesy: Alcantara

I met Adrian Wong and Shane Aspegren when the royal apartment was still at its transformation stage. The Herald, the Guard and the Court Lady: each had the strings of their own destiny pulled. Olivier, Giovanni and I would be introduced soon to that destiny. Adrian and Shane taught me to cross the art of others without stopping. They trained me to the extreme slowness and the happiness of freedom. I was chosen and for this I am grateful to them.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Gentucca Bini, Ho Visto un Re

Gentucca Bini, “Real/Royal Fringes”, Photo Courtesy: Alcantara

I carried on my shoulders a 5 kg body. Almost like a child. Almost as it was a child. I kept it hanging on both shoulders with an equal weight distribution. I kept it here – you can not see it now – but I have two red marks on my shoulders . I had them after the second day of rehearsal. I have them, more intense, today. I think they will be here tomorrow too and also in my memory for a while.
I did not know much about the life of a Court Lady before this September. Perhaps she had inhabited these ten rooms for years or maybe she was the Lady-in-waiting of others before coming here and be inhabited by me. Surely that child was not hers. That dress, I mean.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Ho Visto un Re

The Court Lady, Photo: Elena Elli

I was waiting for a prince but I did not know when he would return. 
Before the sixth room (that of Gentucca Bini), then the seventh (that of Taisuke Koyama), then the eighth (that of Maurizio Anzeri), then the ninth (that of Paola Besana): with no “finally” because as there was no beginning, not even there was an end. Each time I “feel” the “Nights at the Palace” by Paola Besana I turned back, as each time my feet touched the optical games by Gentucca Bini I resumed my path again. I walked and turned so much I had lost myself. I am waiting; I inhabit a dress made of royal fringes and bored silences; I live in four rooms of the Apartment of the Prince. Also the dress I wear is made of real and royal fringes, made from Alcantara material placed on a monumental petticoat, supported by two suspenders, covered with a tight bodice in turn concealed by a collar made of a undercollar with an upper structure in real and royal fringes. I must not forget the bells … Also the dress I wear is artwork. My hands are in the hands of Gentucca Bini and the body I live in is of artists, controlled by Adrian Wong and Shane Aspegren and mirror reflected of their labyrinthine designs … Am I also an artwork?

No eye contact: if someone comes, I welcome him with discretion, I introduce myself timidly. I bow down. I get up. I put my hands on my hips. Lower my hands. I rotate my hands. I rotate my body. I gave a twirl without producing noise.

Ho Visto un Re, Palazzo Reale

Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren, “A King Saw Us”, Photo Courtesy: Alcantara

I’ve never seen the labyrinth by Adrian Wang and Shane Aspegren placed in the tenth room of the Prince under the name of “A King Saw Us”. I could not see the guard’s bayonet, that, dancing tip tap, emerged from the complex and colorful path. I could not sit on the chair by Matthew Herbert, “Unconcealed”, placed in a fourth room and take my time to listen to the voices of Alcantara workers. Maybe because I was not given the chance to own time. I could not be a surprised spectator of the theatre of the fourth room of Francesco Simeti. And after his “Xanadu”, I could not think about the game of mirrors and optical illusions of his “Cistula”, placed in the third room. I have not heard the re-told fairy tales by Arthur Arbesser in the second room. What a pity. I was not fooled by the fake concrete wall entitled “Skinned” created by Gentucca Bini. And I would never have been allowed to play “Games for a Prince” by Maurizio Anzeri

Ho Visto un Re, Palazzo Reale

Francesco Simeti, “Xanadu”, Photo Courtesy: Alcantara

At 19 o’clock of September 19th , 2016, the doors, before then hidden, opened to public.
 Their footsteps arrive curious. “Amor pedestre”: they proceed with their smells, their steps, their words.
As for me, on the contrary, I never once thought to raise my head. I am waiting for him, the Prince. About the others, I must confess, it does not matter to me. Space has become monotonous in my mind: a theater, empty or full, definitely with the fourth wall.
 Even the presence of the Herald, it does not matter to me. Everyone has his role in that dwelling.


Ho Visto un Re, Palazzo Reale

The Herald, Photo Courtesy: Shane Aspegren

The wait continues to increase, the time to grow and something in me is broken: I can not stand the company of the friend Boredom any longer… 
I also want to be free. Free to look at the sky beyond the ceiling.

Ho Visto un Re, Palazzo Reale

Maurizio Anzeri, “Games for a Prince”, Photo Courtesy: Alcantara

After the deepest bow, I turn and I see a marble shelf. “Feel the marble.” And then I see a reflection: mine. I do not recognize myself, but I did not fall into any body of water.
 The collar has already begun by long to tighten more. It rings. I move like a restless dog with his collar. Wave upon wave of hands: I take it off with my hands. I recognize myself free. I start to twirl around and I surprise myself every time I find my face in the mirror.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Ho Visto un Re

The Court Lady, Photo: Elena Elli

I use my touch. I touch the photographs by Taisuke Koyama. Why should I limit myself to use the sight? I touch the floor. I touch the wall, the two doors of the room. I try to knock. I hide behind a column and then, still vaulting, I escape. I enter the “Real / Royal Fringes” by Gentucca Bini and start to camouflage. I roll them up my hands so as to bring them with me, sounds and wheezing breathing , in the middle of the room …

I look up, I see the ceiling. I look down, I greet my reflection. I move my neck with the intensity of the previous effort. I shake everything. I’m nervous. I act: I do not speak, do not think. I follow the cage of my new free thoughts. In the eighth room: a concert of silent faces. I design their features and so I find out mine. I rotate on tiptoe. I put my hands in their eyes and start to make them dance. I enter the four walls of Paola Besana. Surrounded by her tapestries, her weave, her branches and I conceal myself behind the beds of her family.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Ho Visto un Re

Paola Besana, “Nights at the Palace”, Photo: Elena Elli

As I turn back I feel a presence coming closer: it is the Herald kindly approaching. Until that moment I had gone in search of myself, and I find myself prey in my turn. I stand motionless in the left corner of the eighth room.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Ho Visto un Re

The Herald and the Court Lady, Photo: Gianni Ettore Andrea Marussi

The Herald approaches. I knock on the door. I feel the heart beating in the neck: the only noise. Even my dress is silent. In the end I decided to get up, to get closer. He’s holding my collar. He’s holding my duty. I let the newfound freedom drop from my hands. I hold out my hands to the collar and shun. I stop. I cry. I bow down. I turn. I wait. The herald is approaching. He takes the collar in front of me. A moment’s hesitation: the neck tries to move and my knees bend. I get up. I look down. The Herald fasten the collar around my neck. He puts in order the fringes on my chest. He hugs me. He protects me. I bow down, I thank him. 

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Ho Visto un Re

The Herald and the Court Lady, Photo Courtesy: Alcantara

And I get back to my cyclic life, aware that, after having found the mirror, “felt the marble” or touched the bed and gone through the “Night at the Palace”, I might have felt the same basic needs: I would have removed the collar, aware that the end my freedom would soon approach in the guise of a kindly Herald …

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Ho Visto un Re

The Herald and the Court Lady, Photo Courtesy: Shane Aspegren

Almost like a game of meta-theater, Shane Aspegren has approached me, Court Lady, and led me to a hidden door to my earlier foolishness. He told me to go, he did not ask to “feel the marble” any longer, he did not ask me to kindly bow down, he no longer asked. Nothing. It was about 21:20, he touched me on the shoulder and Reverie returned. I do not know how many times the escape of the Lady, the Heral’s hunt, the tap dance of the Guard repeated. I lost count behind the white door.

How do you define what is the limit of the theater in the theater when you are side by side to your viewers? I usually perform, for others, remaining motionless or away from others, moving only some parts of my body. This time, however, I got off strongly, I stepped on feet – and I apologize -, I pushed elbows- and I regret – I amazed children – of this I am happy – and I did not answer to request of kissing my hand …

Once the door was closed, also Reverie was moved to tears.
Because waiting for a happy ending, at the end there was an end.

Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi, Ho Visto un Re

Gentucca Bini, “Real/Royal Fringes”, Photo Courtesy: Alcantara

 

Credits:
Special thanks to Adrian Wang & Shane Aspegren, Selva Barni, Gentucca Bini, Daniela Marizzoni, Davide Quadrio, Ilaria Speri, Massimo Torrigiani.

Main image of this article:
courtesy of the artist Shane Aspegren

INFO
The King and I”
A collaboration Municipality of Milan – Culture, Palazzo Reale, Alcantara
Cureted by Davide Quadrio and Massimo Torrigiani
Curatorial coordination Selva Barni and Ilaria Speri
Palazzo Reale Milano, 20 September – 23 October

Artists:
Maurizio Anzeri, Arthur Arbesser, Paola Besana, Gentucca Bini, Matthew Herbert, Taisuke Koyama, Francesco Simeti, Adrian Wong & Shane Aspegren

Performers:
Giovanni Abbracciavento, Olivier Langhendries, Eloisa Reverie Vezzosi

AMOlinks:
fantomeditions.com/the-king-and-i-at-palazzo-reale/ palazzorealemilano.it/HO_VISTO_UN_RE
askanews.it/nove-artisti-e-l-alcantara
platform/visto-un-re/