A Celestial Bathroom
This year the International Bathroom Furniture Exhibition presented an event devoted to the bathroom as seen through the beauty of the female form and the celestial vault. It was held at the Civic Planetarium Ulrico Hoepli in Milan’s Giardini Pubblici, close to the Villa Reale.
The International Bathroom Furniture Exhibition held its cultural event in tandem with its commercial offering that veers away from the exhibition area proper and into the city, to an immensely fascinating place: the Planetarium, designed by the architect Piero Portaluppi 80 years ago, and donated to the city by Ulrico Hoepli.
“A Celestial Bathroom”, was a video-installation celebrating the bathroom world, declined through the grace and beauty of the female form and the celestial vault above. The mythology of the celestial bodies, and of Venus in particular, leads to a discourse on beauty, reflected from the cosmos onto the female form, and thence to the bathroom.
The bathroom has always been a place of both physical and spiritual wellbeing, a place for regeneration, for tending to oneself and one’s own body. Of all the rooms, the bathroom is undoubtedly the part of the house that has enjoyed the greatest renewal in terms of reprising its original identity. Formerly nothing more than a service facility, private and hidden away, it has now become a very real focus for mental and physical well-being, capturing the attention and imagination of planners and businesses alike.
The video installation played out as a multimedia journey in which the female form, caught in the intimacy of a gesture, becomes performance – the bathroom providing the setting for the story of the evolution of the room itself and the precepts of beauty and the representation of the female form.
The changing ideals of beauty have also brought an influence to bear on our homes and the spaces therein dedicated to the various life functions, such as the bathroom, once merely a privilege afforded to the few, and now the focus of much attention for all those who see it not simply as a service area, but in terms of fitness and body care.
The narrator is one of the great cinematographic actresses of our time, Margherita Buy, perfectly attuned to the theme of women in art, who introduces and interjects with brief comments on the performance of beauty.
Images culled from the film world and from art, from graphic art and from advertising, accompanied by the words of the great poets and writers take us through the video: from the works of the Renaissance artists through to the changing tastes of the C19th, when iconography abandoned portraiture in favour of depictions of the body and its powers of expression. The exhibition then focuses on C20th iconography, the era of the body triumphant: the beauty treatments of the early C20th, the early beauty contests and the mythical Hollywood stars with unpublished images from the Getty Images Archive and the Kobal Archive.
“A Celestial Bathroom” is a Muse production, curated by Francesca Molteni, in association with Studio Due Effe, Marco Di Noia, graphics and Fabrizio Campanelli, music consultant.
Corso Venezia 57