MULTIMEDIA ART MUSEUM, MOSCOW
MUSEUM "MOSCOW HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY"
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Paolo Pellegrin
The War of Desires

Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome Paolo Pellegrin.
From “The War of Desires” series. 
Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Paolo Pellegrin. From “The War of Desires” series. Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Moscow, 19.03.2005—3.04.2005

exhibition is over

A3 Gallery

Starokonushenny per., 39

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Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

Project presented by the International festival FotoGrafia, produced by Zone Attive, Rome

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...We are reminded of Stanley Kubric’s Full Metal Jacket, when one of the soldiers asks to borrow his partner’s «sister»-his rifle-for a couple of nights, to grease her and use her. Even the roles (male and female) have been inverted. A much more ancient and persistent sexuality had filtered through the cracks of the ideologies that triggered the war of the twentieth century. It recalls us the Talibans’ and Al-Quaida’s prepubescent war against women, where nothing must be seen except for the infamous burka and stories of rape, incest and systematic abuse of woman behind an endless Holy War.

War photographer Paolo Pellegrin has revealed to our dumbfounded eyes the burka that covers western bodies. Pellegrin, the author of an incredible book about the war in Kosovo, now presents us with a series of photographs about the lulls or downtimes in Western pornography: A woman being sodomized beside a religious sculpture in Budapest; cheese and baguettes arranged on a table for models, photographers and gaffers; weary models smoking cigarettes during their break; dramatic faces, laughter and reflections; girls wearing garters climbing up stairs in a manner reminiscent of Duchamp, cleaning off the remains of the session; black slaves feigning pleasure or surprise, simulating an orgasm; the pain of a face in the middle of sexual intercourse; a model crying because of a filming mistake or because the scene must be repeated; a tiny model, practically an incest, lost in the expanse of an enormous stage. These lulls remind us of other protracted, boring moments in war: when soldiers play chess, or when weapons, covered in dust, are left outdoors-the obscene gaping hole of a rifle barrel, of a grenade launcher, the erect cannon of a tank covered by a camouflage net, the inanimate, anonymous orifices...And the corpses always somewhere else.

A Bosnian family weeping, their pain remaining alien and enigmatic, the face of a man whose fate we are doomed to forget captured in a photograph, a devastated road, the faceless city of war...A perverse dialectic pervades the work of this photographer who has witnessed both intimacy and openness, the lyric poetry of pain and an epic of the orgasm.

We have gone a long way from Betty Page photographs-the Judy Garland of Western eroticism-and from the Vargas girls that captivated the post-World War II generation. Following Deleuze, Pellegrin proves that there is no dialectic but rather a continuity, a contagion and a immediacy between war and pornography ( you need but fold a tabloid and juxtapose the model of the week with the last page of seamy articles).

This has little to do with the comfortable stupidity of a man masturbating before the icons of analheat.com, darkgarden or barely adults. A war is being waged on all fronts, and it is not a war between East and West, or Christianity and Islam, or between men and women-Al Quaida and 9/11 have made this quite clear. The first and last bastion of war resides in the body. The ultimate fetish, the supreme object is the fragmented body, the timeless scene, and Pellegrin is a master at this: he uncovers that mutilation of reality which photography reveals.

The limits of photography: fragmented context, legs and feet piled on top of each other, faces contorted with grief, unreliable penises, mute children, erect muscles, the absence of a story, spread-eagled legs exposing genitalia...Today photography teaches us that the instant does not exist and that in capturing the ephemeral, it shows a continuous, perverse, destructive time-that of History, our everyday environment.

The burkas of the body, of sex, of violence, are present in the East as well as in the West. Their faces might be different, but in all places they are masks that makes us equals. Every form of abuse has its own aesthetics and its own narrative.

In this book, the Real Bluebeard, Georges Bataille wrote about war as sex and sex as war. But it should be a bit hasty to turn this comparaison into a dialectic. In war, sexuality is sublimated through dismembered and exposed bodies. For their part, the Greek poets, the troubadours, the Classica spoke of the war of desire. Each time we read the Iliad, Helena’s body-the sacrificed woman-is always throbbing, and so is that of the youth, in one of Ovid’s poems, who must give himself up to the wild boars. In every sexual encounter there is a sacrifice, tacit violence. In every fetish a rifle, a trench, a bleeding wound, an observing eye. There is no way back.

Paolo Pellegrin shows us that there are no antinomies, merely contiguities. Beauty and desire are not opposed to war and violence. Atrocity and beauty are sisters. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, love and war seemed to be opposites, but today, in the early years of the twenty-first century, Eros and Thanatos are once again, as in ancient times, brothers in arms. And no one shows this more clearly than Paolo Pellegrin. Throughout his work, he has demonstrated that those lulls-when models take a break, cry or eat-are the same as those of people trapped in history-trying to play, escape, find an exit or simply courageously question their situation, caught off guard in perpetual instant by a lens which is observing them.

Paolo Pellegrin has lifted the Western veil and shows us how war is indebted to pornography and how much pornography owes to violence.

However-and despite these reflections, and as lovers of the game of desire-beyond the burka that anthropologist defend, in Paolo Pellegrin’s photographs of lulls we discover a delightful and liberating door, men and women paying with desire, the games of the sexes, a " general strike " of desire and work-there are no casualties nor tragedies here. As we see in the oldest remaining pictures of Kajurajo in India or in the cheapest kind of pornography, desire as the driving force of life, performs the ritual of leisure. We are grateful to Paolo Pellegrin for allowing us to see the other side of war : let us make a battlefield of our bodies. Let us play with our imagination and not with violence. Say no to work, say no to war and say yes to leisure, say yes to pointless, groundless time...

Mauricio Molina

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