“Theater is a black mirror of our existence.” So said the Italian playwright and director Romeo Castellucci, in another context. His work is dark. Intense. Assaultive. An Artaud-inspired theater of cruelty that pokes at the wounds of our existence to move even the numbest among us. We might leave a Castellucci piece shaken, often with a heightened sense of awareness, but we are unlikely to feel great despair. Why? For one, the works are aesthetic marvels. They are poetic and strangely beautiful. They are also full of compassion for human suffering. And the fact that there is an artist grappling so viscerally with vexing philosophical questions reminds you that the experience of the void—that great existentialist gap—is collective, not individual.
This video is an excerpt from a longer conversation between Castellucci and curator Carlos Basualdo of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which took place in the fall of 2013.
Romeo Castellucci is an Italian theater director, playwright, artist, and designer. He is the founder, along with his sister Claudia Castellucci, Chiara Guidi, and Paolo Guidi, of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, an association operating at the borders of theater, performance and visual art, considered to be one of the most radical contemporary theater groups in Italy and in Europe. In 2003 he became director of the theater section of the 37th Venice Biennale, and in 2008 he was one of two associate artists at the Festival d’Avignon.
Carlos Basualdo is the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he curated the Center-funded, multidisciplinary exhibition Dancing around the Bride, and curator at MAXXI, Rome. He was the lead organizer of Bruce Nauman: Topological Gardens, which represented the US at the 2007 Venice Biennale, where it was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.