Exhibition Design for Mathias Poledna
Curator: Jasper Sharp
Imitation of Life is being shown in the temporary addition to the Austrian Pavilion, designed by architects Kuehn Malvezzi, who transformed Robert Kramreiter and Josef Hoffmann’s 1934 building in the gardens of the Biennale Gardens into a screening room, reversing the relationship between interior and exterior.
In Poledna’s film, the donkey does a few dance steps while singing along to the soundtrack in a forest full of surprises: singing birds and chubby bunnies are the main characters in a moment of levity and fun. With its simple and straightforward narrative structure, Imitation of Life refers to the cartoon as a language of pure joy in a fantasy world with no worries, anxieties or fatigue that pervades the viewer’s every pore.
Yet the film’s true nature is revealed in the use of traditional technologies. Imitation of Life is a time machine that takes us back to the dark years of a world with no resources or prospects, devastated by war. In this world, the only escape was to forget everyday life and become immersed in a fantastic world where donkeys dance and sing, birds ask trivial questions, and rabbits and squirrels move to a precise choreography. The parallel with today's world is inevitable.