Reunion; Salò     (1998)

  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
  • Reunion; Salò     (1998)

    Video (digitised Super 8″ film) with sound
    9 mins
    12 framed c-type photographs,
    and lithographic posters

    Reunion; Salò  as low resolution on Vimeo

    “Only finding one of the originals – whose name was Antiniska Nemour – meant that most of the missing boys and girls were replaced with doubles.
    After the reunion she told us that she’d avoided being killed in the film by asking to be excluded from taking part in the final scene.”

    In Rome in 1998 he searched for the 16 adolescents seen executed in Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s 1975 film ‘Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom‘.
    Following a process used by Adam Chodzko in a number of previous artworks, an advertisement was disseminated in a public space in order to catalyse an event which becomes the second stage of the work. Both sign and event evolving into the final work.

    “… I was going to stage a reunion party for them, as if still needing to verify for myself (to challenge the part of me that naively has an absolute belief in what I see in cinema, and somehow retains forever an uneasy trace of that belief) that everything was, of course, totally fine and it was all ‘just a film’.
    I expected to find maybe a third of the original actors from the film. I had a structure planned; I think that I hoped that it was all going to be quite elegant, composed and knowing. (In retrospect, what I’d imagined and filmed would have been pretty vacuous if exhibited in that form). After three months research, foraging through the Pasolini foundation archives, speaking with some of the people involved in the production of Salò (including Laura Betti) I had only found one of the original sixteen adolescents from the film!  Her name was Antiniska Nemour, now living in the north of Italy and working as a dental assistant.  I was becoming worried that my planned event was not going to work!
    To cut a very long story short I decided to stage the reunion (which I would shoot myself on Super 8 film, as though for a ’70’s family ‘home movie’) with Antiniska as ‘guest of honour’ and all the missing adolescents replaced with doubles.  Coincidentally, at that time, in the late 90’s, a lot of the Roman teenagers I passed in the street had very similar hairstyles to the young people in the film from 1975 and many had a striking facial resemblance to the cast, faces that I had imprinted on my memory from watching the original film so many times and also through my subsequent archive research using Salò’s production stills (mostly taken by Deborah Beer).
    So, there was Antiniska from the original film who had, of course, by 1998, grown 23 years older. Then there were the doubles who looked like the original cast – almost too like them! – because they were entirely ‘wrong’ for the present.  Apparently not having aged they seemed to be somehow still trapped in 1975.  They were photographed, individually, holding the posters I used to search for them and pointing to their corresponding portrait within that advertisement.
    Afterwards, when Antiniska was leaving to get the train back to where she lived in Ferrara I was thanking her for her participation in my project and was trying to think of questions to ask her about her involvement in the original film. I finally asked her – pretty much as she stepped on the train – how she was ‘murdered’ (realising that she was the only one of the ‘victims’ I hadn’t noticed being executed in the original film). She replied that, at the last minute she had asked Pasolini if she could avoid being murdered, not feeling comfortable about performing the act of being killed. And Pasolini had sensitively respected her wishes.
    This seemed amazing!  The one person who had reappeared in the present was the only one of the 16 adolescents who had eluded their fictional death. I therefore had to change the focus of my piece completely.  Her avoidance of a ‘death’ on celluloid in 1975 seemed to be both the worst and best possible answer to my search.   The worst? Because it suggested that the ‘deaths’ were real deaths.  The best? Because it suggested that perhaps through going through the symbolic performance of being killed within that fiction, a form of play was completed, allowing their roles to become forgotten. These participants had therefore ‘moved on’.  But it remained unresolved for one of the performers who had not completed this form of ritual. She was therefore still able to haunt the present suspended through the traces of her character from 1975.
    Of course, Reunion; Salò  also emerges from Pasolini’s own tragic murder shortly after the filming of  ‘Salo or 120 days of Sodom’ was completed.”

    Catalogue notes for Le Voyage Interieur, Espace EDF-Electra, Paris, 2005, curated by Alex Farquharson and Alexis Vaillant.

    Reunion; Salò     (1998) has been widely exhibited since 1998, including (a) Viewpoint Gallery, Salford (1998), (b) the British School at Rome (1999), (c) as part of Sleuth, (group exhibition curated by Caryn Faure Walker) at Barbican Centre, London , and ffotogallery, Cardiff,  and Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales (1999), (e) Franco Noero Galleria, Torino, (1999), (f) Le Voyage Interieur, Espace EDF-Electra, Paris, a group exhibition curated by Alex Farquharson and Alexis Vaillant, Le Voyage Interieur, Espace EDF-Electra, Paris, 2005, curated by Alex Farquharson and Alexis Vaillant.(g) Responding to Rome, Estorick Collection, London (2006), (h)  5 Uneasy Pieces + An Open Investigation, (group exhibition),  curated by Anja Kirschner, UM Gallery, UMPRUM, Prague, (2016), (i) Renata, remember you are unconscious; you have no expression, no pain, you don’t yell, you are unconscious!  (solo exhibition), British School at Rome, Rome (2022), and (j) in the group exhibition, Pasolini en clair-obscur, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM) curated by Guillaume de Sardes (2024)

    The Guest of Honour: Antiniska Nemour
    The Doubles; Marie Aloe, Luca Cortellesi, Antonio Crialesi, Sara Di Giuda, Enrico Jacovoni, Marilia la Marca, Valeria Martini, Luiciano Perrotta, Marzia Spallone, Peter Stacey, Cristina Temerilli, Maria Trenta.
    The narrator: Chiara Bersi Serlini
    Editing: Paul Hammacott
    Stills Photography: Mette Perregaard
    With thanks to Jacopo Benci and Marianne Therese Grønnow
    and to The Pasolini Foundation and Alberto Grimaldi for their assistance and permission to use the original footage.

    The sixteen teenagers from the original cast; Olga Andreis, Graciella Aniceto, Benedetta Gaetani, Dorit Henke, Faridah Malik, Guilana Melis, Renata Moar, Antiniska Nemour, Lamberto Book, Umberto Chessari, Claudio Ciccehtti, Gaspare Di Jenno, Sergio Fascetti, Franco Merli, Bruno Musso, Antonio Orlando.

     Excerpt from Andrew Wilson, Proxigean Tide, Tate St Ives, 2008
    “Given Chodzko’s attention to those areas of life that might otherwise go unremarked or remain unregarded, even forgotten, and also given his weaving of narrative into these areas (symbolic, whether actual and real or fictional and constructed) it is telling that he organised a reunion of extras from Ken Russell’s film The Devils (From Beyond 1995) as well as reunions of those children who appeared in Fellini’s City of Women (The Return from The City of Women 1996) and in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film Salò (Reunion; Salò 1998).”

    As with Chodzko’s Product Recall  (1994), and From Beyond  (1995) Reunion; Salò uses a process of ‘recovery’ but also works with a loss;  ‘looking in the wrong place’ from where our attention is intended to be focussed and replacing it with an attention that is ‘too late’; 23 years is not long to trace those in starring roles, but a long interval to try to track down those whose relationship with the film was looser, more fleeting, pragmatic and peripheral.  This state of instability, of mixing up the usual order of things to demonstrate how precariously constructed they are, is a key concern of Chodzko’s practice.

    Related works:

    From Beyond     (1995)
    Involva         (1995)
    Meetings of people with stammers to describe a fire    (1999 – ongoing)
    Nightvision    (1998)
    Product Recall     (1994)
    Runners  (2013)
    The God Look-Alike Contest (1991-1992)
    The Pickers    (2009)  
    Transmitters    (1991 – )

  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
    Exhibited as part of “Renata, remember you are unconscious..." (2022)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
    Advertisment placed by Chodzko, in the 'Porta Portese' newspaper, Rome
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
    'Salò' cast party, 1975, photograph by Deborah Beer. 
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
    'Reunion; Salò' installed in '5 Uneasy Pieces + An Open Investigation
', Prague, 2016
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
    Exhibited as part of “Renata, remember you are unconscious..." (2022)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
    detail; exhibited as part of “Renata, remember you are unconscious..." (2022)
  • Adam Chodzko / Reunion; Salò     (1998)
    detail; exhibited as part of "Pier Paolo Pasolini, en clair-obscur", (2024), Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. Photographer - Neil Bicknell