Bed meets club meets runway meets afterlife
Davide Stucchi and Michele Rizzo
What follows is a conversation carried out over DM:
Davide Stucchi: Can we assume that D, me speaking, stands for Dressing and M, you speaking, stands for Movement? LOL!
Michele Rizzo: Linen On (my) Legs? Though I never wear linen pants...Lycra perhaps... LOL! I guess that at one point we started to get excited because the term wearing came up while I was talking about dancing in the club. I said something like: “While I’m dancing, I connect to some kind of alternative identity of mine, which I access through movement, and it’s like I can wear it!”.
DS: I was already excited. I felt this whole conversation was coming. I was teasing you with links and music from runway fashion shows. Then at one point you said you go to bed wearing your performance outfit, and things unfolded from there.
MR: Totally. Most of my outfits are suitable for either bed, performance, or club. I wonder whether the issue stems from limited variety or from ubiquity. I’m extremely seduced by ubiquity. It implies that there are various me’s existing beyond my body.
I surely feel this every time I’m on the dance floor at a club and some good techno is playing. I like to think of it as an encounter with a “body of movement,” in the sense of a body only made of movement, or perhaps some kind of avatar of myself dancing in a specific way, eternally, somewhere in a huge disco-labyrinth.
DS: If you, let’s say, achieve this feeling through immersion, I do the opposite, I erase presence all at once. To me absence is what catalyses the process of identification. I’ve been to clubs but I've never been on a catwalk, or seated in the audience to watch one. Then again you made the choreography for the Marni menswear FW 2021 show.
MR: Yes, that choreography was pretty much like diving. But to immerse oneself into something can be a bit like drowning in it, a form of disappearing. It reminds me of this Georges Bataille concept of being in the world like water in water, as well as that of oceanic feeling, from psychoanalysis, as a condition prior to ego crystallization. It’s all about blurring boundaries... maybe about evaporation.
I once read an article you wrote in which you talk about runway music as ephemeral soundtracks of style.
DS: I titled it Style without bodies. Or we also wear music… my friend told me that the issue of the magazine would be about style, so I thought “style without bodies” would suit it...
Davide Stucchi, Milan (Mobile 1) Entrance, 2020. Ceramic lamp holder, light bulb, aluminum clothes hangers, tag, 105 × 100 × 50 cm
Marni Fall/Winter 2020 runway show
Choreographed by Michele Rizzo
MR: If I attempt to create an imaginary representation of that moving avatar, it seems to be an impossible task. Because that “me” has no actual body and I can’t perceive it by sight. Instead, I recognize it through a feeling. I summon it by looking for a specific movement sensation. It’s a very physical experience, untied to any kind of visual representation. So, in a way, it’s also ephemeral.
DS: You are there, but not 100% there... Are you on drugs?
MR: Either on drugs or just moved. Moved away. Kicked out of my body. In trying to define that invisible bodily resource, the one that allows the body to feel its own movement, most of my focus would first go into attempting to erase the body itself. To empty the form of its content and only let movement come to the foreground, vibrating elegantly… Do you remember the latest Antwerp Fashion Academy graduation show in which garments were carried by invisible bodies? Well, you showed me that.
DS: Dressing the movement or undressing it? Dressing the movement or undressing the moment? Dressing the movement or moving the dress?
MR: If the body is the dress, and if movement is like the feeling of the body, the so-called proprioception, the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body, then yeah, let’s say moving the dress.
DS: Does this “suit” you: Suit is a dress but also a way to say when things are matching, not as a confrontation but more like an eclipse, the perfect sovra-position. Much like the way I like to use language.
MR: As I try to elaborate those thoughts I start to feel an odd sensation, a mix between an image and a texture, some sort of tactile-visual, synthetic or organic manifestation—I don’t know—visiting me. Did you ever notice words starting to emerge from the page while you are reading? It’s like two dimensions germinate into a third one all of a sudden, in front of your very eyes. It cracks your skull swiftly. It feels like I’m tripping now. Thinking about this makes me trip.
Davide Stucchi, Greek belts, 2020. Bubble wrap, tape 1
DS: Okay, get this trip: every time you get dressed remember that, if you die, that will be your ghost outfit forever.
MR: Well, my ghost sleeps with ski sunglasses on then.
DS: I wanna be a Margiela ghost! Walking around with a face veil, maybe? I don’t know. I’m kidding, but something that covers your sight can definitely change your perception and your movements. And/or break them, creating something uncontrolled.
MR: I guess it’s all synesthesia, the ubiquity of senses. Bed meets club meets runway meets afterlife.
DS: I watch the shows in bed, most of the time… Old and new ones. Like the fashion show by John Bartlett from fall 2001 where models were left almost sleeping in the room, were they dressing the stillness? Or Carol Christian Poell spring 2004 where models were left lying down to navigate the stream of Naviglio Grande Canal in Milan.
MR: Once I made a theater show, Spacewalk (2017) at Brakke Grond Theatre in Amsterdam, in which dancers fell asleep on stage. They performed a progressively slower hands dance in front of their own eyes, while laying down, until they passed out. What followed was a simple choreography of breathing and dreaming, you could say.
DS: Can I say I choreograph bodies in space by leaving traces of their passage, or possible return? Like MacGuffin objects? The clothes hangers, for example, have been a perfect object to manipulate.
MR: Clothes hangers like skeletons stepping out of the closet. This might be how you implement steps in your research... Hehehehehe.
DS: “Cinzia said…” the intro of Matia Bazar’s song Elettrochoc is echoing in my mind... The artist and designer Cinzia Ruggeri would often start her fashion course at the Academy here in Milan by asking the students to design the shoes first. She once told me that everything is inscribed in the step, in the way you walk, from the footprint.
MR: True. In the 60’s “pedestrian” dances appeared as a way to affirm continuity between performers and spectators. It’s interesting that in fashion, walking survives always and forever as the main and most preferable motion of the body, bridging models and ordinary wearers.
DS: If there is one thing that has not changed in decades of eclectic evolution, it is the fact that models walk. Walking knowing that you are being watched by an audience is an important factor that continues to justify the presence of the catwalk as the focal point of a fashion show. Although in recent times, with what happened to all of us, the fashion rendez-vous shifted toward a more cinematic scheme. A location good for a fashion show in a big city is no longer needed, while an unreachable one is the perfect set for a short film presentation for a brand. A dune, the tour Eiffel, the seashores or everyday streets at night.
Having started this conversation, I can see potential for merging our two perspectives or, better said, practices, toward giving them a common body. What do you think?
MR: Yeah, let’s dress up... I’m ready! I just wanna go out!
Carol Christian Poell Spring/Summer 2004
Matia Bazar, Elettrochoc, 1983
This conversation started at an early stage of Davide and Michele’s friendship, after they first met in October 2020 at the Quadriennale d’arte of Rome (in which they are both exhibiting their works).
Michele Rizzo lives and works between Amsterdam and Milan. His research operates at the crossover between performance and visual art, merging sculpture, dance, and theater elements. Rizzo considers how dance can facilitate states of flow, totality, and transcendence, and acknowledges the connection between dance and para-religious practices. While deconstructing the experience of raving, his research is also attentive to the important role that nightclubs play as gathering spaces for marginalized groups, fostering public intimacy while providing individuals an environment in which to explore their identities.
Davide Stucchi lives and works in Milan. Working mainly in sculpture, his works involve minimal interventions in and subtle manipulations of existing materials to investigate the body, its social functions and representations. Stucchi’s installations follow directed movements and set ups, where objects follow traces and materialize absent bodies inscribed with private and intimate feelings and memories. In Stucchi’s work, the confrontation of exterior realms such as fashion or advertisement and domesticity is often drawn upon to question and interfere in representations of queer masculinity, sexuality, and intersecting class relationships.
All works courtesy the artists.