“Così fan tutte”, ossia la scuola degli amanti [Thus do all women, or the school for lovers] (1790), the last comic opera written by Lorenzo da Ponte for Amadeus Mozart, is the starting point for this homonymous video exhibition.
As per the majority of comic operas, “Così fan tutte” also rotates around the themes of love and infidelity. Placing a bet, the lovers of damsels Dorabella and Fiordiligi pretend that they have to leave for war and abandon them; shortly after, the same men dressed as ‘strangers’, start to court them till the women ‘give up’ and accept to marry them. The scene is interrupted with the unveiling of their lie, and the resolution that ‘also women can cheat’. All the characters within the opera (except for the sisters) know about the deceptive plot, and the audience follows the events from the ‘male’, or the deceivers’ point of view.
The proposed video exhibition aims to overturn this point of view through a feminist reading of the opera and by revisiting it with the perspective of two imaginary contemporary protagonists: the selected videos mirror the original sequence of “Così fan tutte” through a ‘filmic and performative collage’ that reinterprets its contents. By keeping the lyrical and comic aspects of the opera, the exhibiting artists provide a radical exploration of the relation with masculinity (but more generally, with the Other) across the thematic areas of fidelity, abandon, fear, resistance, exoticism, temptation, seduction, passion and betrayal.
The new video sequence produces a ‘short circuit’ within the original opera, by freeing it from the weight of masculine authority and by confronting social judgments imposed upon women with a sense of irony. The mechanisms of female social oppression, the control and the repression of her desire for non-heteronormative models of life and sexuality, are revisited in the selected video works. In this way, they can contest the patriarchal binary (di)vision of ‘woman as angel’ versus ‘woman as whore’, stating once more, but with self-criticism and self-celebration, that indeed ‘thus do all women’.