The Short Films of Yuri Ancarani
The following is an excerpt from curator Ali Subotnick's essay on Hammer Projects: Yuri Ancarani. Read the full essay here.
We are first introduced to the machine in each film through audio. Il Capo opens with a loud noise, like a garbage truck compacting trash followed by a jackhammer. We are confronted with a massive white marble wall and a gigantic excavator claw slowly stretching over the peak and latching onto the top to extract half the wall under the direction of the foreman, who moves back (seen in slow motion) as a chunk of the wall gently falls away and marble dust fills the air, meeting the dense fog. Piattaforma Luna begins with muffled machinery noises, which gradually build to a hum. Da Vinci opens with a view inside a patient’s body; there are slow, subtle movements and stifled noises, as if it were being recorded underwater, and we see an organ slowly lifting and expanding. The sound track of each film guides the action, leading us into the quarry with the hulking excavator machines, under the sea in the submersible, and inside the human body.
Each film focuses on one or two figures and their precise, at times almost tedious, actions and movements. In Il Capo, the tanned, shirtless foreman directs his crew wordlessly, using a series of lyrical hand gestures similar to those of an air traffic controller or a symphony conductor. A series of close-ups reveal his hairy chest, a gold crucifix around his neck, and his deeply wrinkled face. Slowed down, his motions become almost balletic. Following the chain of command from the foreman to the crew members operating hulking machines amid grand scenery, we are reminded of how small we are.