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By Felicia Bryson, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For those looking for something to do in Rio that doesn’t involve the beach, visiting Christ the Redeemer, or hiking up Sugarloaf then there are always interesting art exhibitions to go see. The Moreira Salles Institute (IMS) in Gávea
 is currently presenting an exhibition featuring American Robert Wilson’s video portraits of celebrities, which integrate elements of film, theater, literature and music.

Actor Johnny Depp wrapped up in furs by Photostream Augapfel/Christopher
Actor Johnny Depp wrapped up in furs, image courtesy of Photostream Augapfel/Christopher.

The avant-garde director, choreographer, artist and playwright is greatly influenced by his broad range of expertise, when it comes to his work. Language, movement and lighting are carefully incorporated into the high definition videos known as Voom Videos, which reflect his austere style, a penchant for very slow movement and extremity when it comes to time and space.

As an example, The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin, one of his performances, lasted a whole twelve hours. He is known to be eccentric and thus always pushing boundaries. This however, has in return won him popularity.

Maybe that is why so many celebrities have wanted to work with him. The videos, which are displayed on 1.5m tall screens, show actors such as Brad Pitt wearing boxers and standing in the rain, Steve Buscemi, working as a butcher and Winona Ryder as Winnie, the main character in the play Happy Days by Samuel Beckett, as well as Johnny Depp.

The reason for why he wants to collaborate with them however, is all part of the underlying message he wants to communicate. Wilson plays with the idea that celebrities are like gods to us, in the sense that we know everything about them but also fear them at the same time.

Artist Robert Wilson (right) by Photostream Augapfel/Christopher
Artist Robert Wilson (right), photo courtesy of Photostream Augapfel/Christopher.

We know that we are not “perfect” like they are, which in turn terrifies us. His moving pictures toy with this contradicting idea of reality and fiction.

According to Arthur Holmberg, author of The Theatre of Robert Wilson, Wilson is “a perfectionist in many respects, never calling it quits until every single aspect of his vision is achieved. A fifteen minute monologue in Quartett took two days for him to light while a single hand gesture took close to three hours. This attention to detail certainly proves his devotion to the importance of lighting, reinforcing the idea that, to Wilson, ‘light is the most important actor on stage’.”

His first signature works include The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973) and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974), but his real shot to fame came when he turned to opera and along with Philip Glass created Einstein on the Beach (1976), which achieved worldwide recognition.

Wilson has also been described by The New York Times as “a towering figure in the world of experimental theater …an explorer in the uses of time and space onstage. Transcending theatrical convention, he draws in other performance and graphic arts, which coalesce into an integrated tapestry of images and sounds”.

The exhibition runs until May 15, 2011 and is free of charge:
Moreira Salles Institute (IMS)
Rua Marquês de São Vicente, 476,
Gávea 
CEP 22451-040
Rio de Janeiro-RJ

Tel.: 21 3284-7400
For more information see: www.robertwilson.com

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