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A VASA video series ... Carla Della Beffa

Carla Della Beffa is a video, photo and relational artist. Formerly art director and creative director in international advertising agencies, she has had experiences (exhibitions) as a painter and a net-artist. After commuting for thirteen years between Milan and Paris, she now lives in Milan but is actively involved in international residencies, exhibitions and festivals.

Since 2011, her artistic research focuses on economy issues and their social impact. She icontinues to address the relational side of life, gender and age issues.

The video work of Carla Della Beffa will cover four installments –
February, March, April and May 2017.
The video series is archived.

February 2017
(First of four installments)

In 2011, I spent a month living in Newark and commuting every day to Manhattan (USA). I saw the victims of recession (the bus stop was the same), worked, and visited Occupy Wall Street. I didn't really agree with them, but they planted a seed. As soon as I came back to Italy, a new government imposed severe austerity measures on us. That's how and when I started to study economy and money issues that changed the focus of my art.

The four videos in this selection are more explicitly related to economy: in fact, I believe that economy is the material that life is made of: actions, objects, thoughts and exchanges that go far beyond money, and without which no society could exist.

Curator Comment

Note: Videos may go full screen. All videos are © Carla Della Beffa

Svelare l'economia - Unveiling Economy

2016, video HD, stereo, 1'20"

Transcript of video text:
I focus on economy since when I got angry with finance. Then I understood that economy is my concern, that it concerns everybody. So I started studying, and seeing economy in everything I do and see.
Take this bottle, for instance. Two different kinds of plastic, water, label, print, glue, etc.
Or take my backyard, instead, where I see houses and consequently people (they are hidden, but they are there), and jobs, and the sky, which is nature, but... What is really natural today?
Everything is a network of relationships, especially economic ones: a grid of economic connections. Like meridians and parallels, and like them, invisible.
But economy is the action, the production of the things that we use: water, couch, book... Just like that.

Business as Usual

2014, video HD, stereo, 2'30"

Business as Usual is about economy and money-related issues: the objective is to increase awareness and make economy less forbidding for "normal" people.
Shot in Milan from morning to night on Saturday, 20 July 2013, "Business as Usual" reveals the many jobs and incomes hidden behind everything we do and see.
While representing one city on a single day, the video is about globalization: any item, service, food and job, represents many people, and every apparently irrelevant economic choice can change lots of lives.

Original music by Francesco Zago

Dress Code

2016, video HD, stereo, 2'50"

"Dress Code" is a fashion show, performed on stairs instead of catwalks. With a medium-sized, short, silver-haired woman, instead of the usual, young, thin, beautiful models. And with items dating back to 1970.
"Dress Code" questions agism, while being a chapter of my research on economy and money issues started in 2011. Since then, I have learned to proudly wear my old things. But as economist Paul Krugman says, "My spending is your income, and your spending is my income": when people can't spend, the whole economy suffer.

Music created with Francesco Zago.


2016, video HD, stereo, 3'

"Timeline" is a story about age, and agism, and most of all about life. It talks of bitrth and death, of terrorism and uncertainty, of the importance of appreciating what we have. The here-and-now as a measure of time: a start; an end; the moments, emotions and actions in between. Since it is also about the cycles of life: night and day, the seasons, the nitrogen cycle of death-decay-rebirth, it's better to watch it in a loop.

Video & voice Carla Della Beffa
Music Francesco Zago

Curatorial Comment

VASA is supporting a four month video series by Carla Della Beffa. Carla Della Beffa is an artist based in Milano, Italy.  Each installment consists of video dialogs addressing a particular theme or position. This marks the third VASA film and video series.  All films are archived on the VASA site and are under copyright of the filmmaker. 

The first video installment or chapter as Carla cares to frame it, addresses elements of economic networks.  Her position is that “everything is a network of relationships”. Relationships in this light are elements connected over time, space and function.  As a paradigm the economic connections are built upon categories connected to other structures and networks. For example, money is connected with banks, credit cards, ATMs, taxes, labor, politicians and investors.  Each of those items are connected to other networks and then other networks.  It is not just a system of relationships but a systemic network that has its roots in history and the social world.  Carla invites us to consider the broader economic relationships and implications of the objects in our world.

Objects made have a fluid currency; currency only has value within a broader network of currencies. Carla’s productions are wonderfully simple and direct.  Her ideas are clear, beckoning us with her simplicity, forcing the viewer to consider the broad social-economic network they live in.  In the video Dress Code she raises the consideration of fashion and aging, the aging of material and value. She does not show us cutting edge fashion with stereotypical young models. Like everything in the social world, the garments in the video were cutting edge and new at one time (The Mac Plus computer was at its introduction in 1986 as a cutting edge technological and social event, now it is placed in museums.). Her garments have a worn history. In the United States a new automobile loses value the moment it is driven off the sales lot.  At that moment there is a transition from new to used, a used object with less value, until later when it is framed as a classic and gains in value.  

The videos suggest that in rejecting consumerism the economic system is impacted. Not buying the latest smart phone impacts a wide array of incomes (people’s lives) and products being produced (use of resources). Her accompanying text references Paul Krugman (Krugman is a noted American economist) and his concept that spending impacts another’s income and incomes effects spending, one needs the other, it is a cycle.  The videos Dress Code, Business as Usual and Unveiling Economy makes this point clear through both performance and text.  

The film deviating from her economy focus is TimelineTimeline like her other videos is simple and strong.  By leading the viewer to consider the use of language to frame “time”, the reader must work on various levels of construction. Her approach, like her other videos in this installment invite the viewer to reflect on a visual and text to construct a critique. 

What Carla Della Beffa has given us in this cluster of videos is a clean and clear discourse.  Missing are special effects and complex imagery – visual noise – which in many situations clouds the reading of the image, and in other cases becomes the message.

The challenge for both Carla and the reader of the visual and written text presented is how to create a dialog between the visual, the text and the concept?

© Roberto Mufdfoletto, 2017

Roberto Muffoletto is the founder and director of VASA. He is past editor of Frame|Work from LACPS (USA), Camera Lucida and currently the VASA Journal on Images and Culture. He currently lives in Vienna, Austria and Poznan, Poland.

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