Curated by Lorenzo Bruni
Prometeo Gallery by Ida Pisani is pleased to announce You have to be focused, a new project created for the suggestive space of the church of San Matteo of Lucca by artist Rossella Biscotti.
The project You have to be focused revolves around the figure of Joseph D. Pistone (Pennsylvania, 1939), who in the 1970’s and 80’s worked undercover as an FBI agent within the Bonanno and Colombo New York crime families, under the false identity of Donnie Brasco. The film Donnie Brasco, directed by Mike Newell and released in 1997 was based on the real life of Joseph Pistone. The teaser for the film says it is based on a true story, and to most of the public the character Donnie Brasco is automatically linked with Johnny Depp’s face.
To this day, and since 1982 when his work led to the largest number of criminal arrests in the history of the Italian-American mafia – Joseph Pistone has been living incognito, under special surveillance.
Rossella Biscotti’s project presented in Lucca – which includes a video installation, photographs, historical documents and new products from her own research – allows Joseph Pistone to regain the possibility to speak and therefore, to exist. One exists always in relation to someone or for someone, beyond just for ourselves and living that role can be a dream. As the theatre character of the life of Pedro Calderón de la Barca said, and as Pistone always repeated to himself as an act of conviction while working undercover, “You have to be focused,” (to remember who you are and where you are.)
Joseph Pistone lived two different lives: that of an FBI agent with a family and that of a career criminal. For this exhibition in Lucca, Biscotti has created a new space where she can represent herself from Joseph Pistone’s perspective and where she can exercise her research methods used to study how various levels of fictional creation in cinema can be perceived as plausible by the spectator, and the gap between reality and journalistic information. What difference is there between being fooled and a story told well to the point where it is accepted as the official version by everyone? Does the concept of being tricked or of a lie still exist today? Did it ever exist? And if so, what is the degree of the relationship between what we consider to be reality and fiction? These are the questions that the artist deals with through Pistone’s real life and his fictional one to arrive at a more in depth reflection regarding the mechanisms with which we build and nourish our personal identity compared to the one that we believe is the collective consciousness.
It is for this reason that in dealing with Pistone, Biscotti first wanted to have a look at the language of noir, which is focused on analyzing the human conditions that the protagonist moves through, more than the cause and effect of particular crimes. In the course of her research, the strongest and most evident aspect is in fact Pistone’s life story, weaved into the series of Biscotti’s attempts to connect herself with “him”. An ulterior attempt is made with this project to allow the spectator to develop his own autonomous point of view and story regarding this question. It is a project about our needs to be the narrator.