Fantasmi

  1. Jill Bennett
  2. 2004
  3. Hardback book of 150 pages with embedded DVD
  1. Published by UNSW Press, Sprengel Museum Hannover: Sydney, Hannover.
  2. in co-operation with iCinema Research Centre, UNSW

Fantasmi presents a richly illustrated analysis of leading Australian new media artist Dennis Del Favero’s works from 1994 to 2004, by art historian Jill Bennett. Deep Sleep DVD-ROM, the first in the iCinema digital monographs series, is incorporated into the Fantasmi dual book and DVD publication.

“One of Dennis Del Favero’s most memorable works, Quegli Ultimi Momenti, dates from twenty years ago. It screened the Australian Centre for Photography in 1984 and, through the use of sound, text, still and moving image, it vividly created the world of migration, the creation of the diaspora, particularly its inevitable, unavoidable sense of loss. The richness of awareness of what had been left behind, and by contrast the unknown into which the protagonists were propelled, remains profoundly moving. The installation, complex yet coherent, with content masterfully allied to form, was, with the great benefit of hindsight, illuminating the very core of so much of the artist’s continuing concerns; of the impact on the individual of events both beyond their control and beyond their conscious understanding. We, as the viewer, become enmeshed in each of his works by a world that we enter at our own risk, and from which we can never emerge unscathed.

The bulk of Del Favero’s oeuvre emerges from real events, involving footage from a variety of media sources spliced together to form fractured narratives that jar the nerves, and are presented on multi screens that dislocate the conventional relationship between viewer and moving image. There is no need to duplicate here Jill Bennett’s detailed studies of each piece, but it is important to clarify their combined role within the genre. Conflict, the meeting of demands, desires, beliefs and impositions that are so utterly incompatible, is surely at the heart of Del Favero’s creativity. Memory and loss are two crucial additional foundation stones, as they intertwine with the various ways in which ideology, passion, lust, impotence, greed and power dictate human actions. Del Favero chooses to dwell on the darker nature within, not to obscure, as with so much artistic endeavour, but to reveal its revelatory and utterly disturbing continuity. This representation of the ”discontent in culture” (S. Freud, 1930), which is normally suppressed or subliminated in art, makes the art of Del Favero so relevant. Links from the present are constantly drawn with so many past eras and manifestations, through reference to music, art, the written and spoken word, and the history of ideas.
This remarkable overview of a most productive era encompasses the realist based works Pieta, Coming Apart, Requiem, Cross Currents, Angelo Nero, Pentimento, Deep Sleep, as well as the fictional Sottovoce. They constitute, when experienced collectively, the most disturbing and moving representation of the crisis of communication that afflicts our world today. There are indeed few artists alive so determined and so capable of maintaining our vigilance."

Nick Waterlow, Director, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, UNSW, Sydney

Peter Weibel, Chairman and CEO, ZKM Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe