"I met my first boyfriend in New York City. I was 19 years old and he 21. We lived together for three years, and in the spring of 1984 is died suddenly due to a new, mysterious disease. Within a very short time, many of my friends in the city began to die. I remember asking God "why is this happening?" I felt death around me and I was convinced that I myself would not have lived over 24 years. "
With this message, the photographer David Lachapelle opens the exhibition itinerary “David Lachapelle. The Believe in Miracles ". After spending a lot of years in the Big Apple, since 2006, Lachapelle has lived on a biological farm in Hawaii, founded by him, where there is no trace of the modern world and everything is fed through solar and water energy. He has repeatedly declared that this choice of him was spurred on the need to isolate himself following the frenetic work with which he was trying himself in the field of advertising, and to feel the need to devote himself entirely to art. The exhibition, however, makes questions about this choice, and this radical change of life: the one currently hosted by the Mudec of Milan and an unpublished and in some ways unexpected lachapelle, with a critical look at the human soul investigated in its folds made of Pain, solitudes, joys, passions and ideals. One wonders how many of these solitudes, joys and pains come from a reflection of the artist on their experience.
In the New York of the 80s and 90s, the plague of AIDS reaps an incalculable number of victims, many, initially, belonging to the LGBTQ community, so much so that the bigots and well -being speak of universal judgment, a disease that affects homosexuals and prostitutes (in Italy then someone will talk about divine punishment following the sixty -eight). Lachapelle witnesses helplessly to his friends of his friends while waiting for him. Over the years, not being able to find a logical explanation of the fact of not having been infected too, it comes to the conclusion of being a miraculous, hence the name of the exhibition: the Believe in Miracles.
Lachapelle tells modernity in its own way, in a pop way and without intellectualisms. The stylistic figure of Senreal Sucatti, characterized by bright colors, dreamlike and sometimes bizarre atmospheres has often been described as a Baroque, even excessive. A very built photograph, defined not by post-production but by the construction of important scenography, by a highly sought after choice of models, and by a masterful use of light. The exhibition covers the artist's recurring themes: criticism of the American dream, the environmental crisis and mysticism, the latter in particular. There are some of his most famous shots, such as the famous "Death by Hamburger" (a girl whose legs are seen because she is covered with a gigantic inflatable hamburger) "Heaven to Hell" (a portrait of Courtney Love In the pity version of Michelangelo, cover of one of the artist's most acclaimed photographic books), and some works of the flooding series (Deluges), which portray spaces such as museums and cathedrals partially, or entirely, flooded. To these are added several works of biblical-religious inspiration, naturally revisited in a pop key. Some shots are mounted on structures reminiscent of the cetars of the churches. The protagonists of the shots are always the algid models that characterize the work of Lachapelle, but a careful eye may note of the "variations on theme" dictated, for example, by the choice of costumes: no longer the patinaed allure of the 90s, but a '70s back aesthetic mixed with futuristic items Iris Van Herpen. A more recent triptych, about halfway through the exhibition, represents solitude and dependence on digital supports caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, together with an ill-concealed criticism of an increasingly selfish and vain humanity.
Perhaps it was the pandemic that inspired this reflective path of the photographer, in which we see the ironic vein of him a little, often replaced by desolation and apocalyptic atmospheres. However, there is a frame, taken from the video Revelations (also on display) which contains in its simplicity all the value that the artist from love and feeling in general, the only way of redemption for a company in decline: In the midst of an abandoned city, with all the flashed windows and piles of garbage thrown here and there, an elderly man and woman kiss passionately. In homage to what it was, with the hope that will return to being.
“David Lachapelle. The Believe in Miracles ”is on display at the Mudec in Milan until 11 September 2022