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Role Play at Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano, through September 26, 2022

“Comprising a selection of photographic, video and performing works by 11 international image-based artists, this project explores the notions of the search, projection and invention of possible alternative identities, hovering between authentic, idealized, and universal selves. Playing with gender tropes, stereotypes, sense of place, and future perspectives, the artists who make up ‘Role Play’ interrogate individuality as we know it and as it might be. Roleplaying, creating alter-egos, and proliferation of selves are possible strategies for understanding each individual’s essence and persona.” — Fondazione Prada

As underlined by Melissa Harris, “Since the early twentieth century, projects engaging roleplay have further contemplated identity, liberating artists to gender-bend and time-travel and envision their selves in myriad ways, in turn reflecting on their very is-ness—even when that is in flux. An alter ego, persona, or avatar may be aspirational; it may relate to one’s personal and cultural history and sense of otherness; it may be a form of activism, or a means of maneuvering through entrenched, even polarized positions, toward empathy: putting oneself in another’s shoes.”

Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. Cao Fei, Cosplayers, 2004
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. From left to right: Cao Fei, Cosplayers, 2004. Darius Mikšys, A Piece of Peace, 2006
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani @delfinosl. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. Bogosi Sekhukhuni, Consciousness Engine 2: absentblackfatherbot, 2014
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani @delfinosl. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. From right to left, from top to bottom: Juno Calypso, Subterranean Kitchen, 2017; Juno Calypso, A Clone of Your Own, 2017; Juno Calypso, Die Now, Pay Later, 2018
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani @delfinosl. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. Meriem Bennani, Guided Tour of a Spill (CAPS Interlude), 2021
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani @delfinosl. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. In the foreground from left to right: Haruna Sakaguchi, Griselda San Martin, Typecast Project, 2019; Amalia Ulman, Excellences and Perfections – New Installation, 2015-2022
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani @delfinosl. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. In the foreground: Tomoko Sawada, OMIAI♡, 2001
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani @delfinosl. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. In the foreground: Beatrice Marchi, Katie’s New Friend, 2022; Part of the performance, Katie, the Friends and Christmas, 2022
Exhibition view of “Role Play.” Osservatorio Fondazione Prada, Milano. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani @delfinosl. Courtesy: Fondazione Prada. From top to bottom: Narcissister Narcissister Breast Work, 2019; Narcissister Narcissister Masks, 2007–2021

“Role Play” features works by artists Meriem Bennani, Juno Calypso, Cao Fei, Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley, Beatrice Marchi, Darius Mikšys, Narcissister, Haruka Sakaguchi & Griselda San Martin, Tomoko Sawada, Bogosi Sekhukhuni, and Amalia Ulman in a light installation project, conceived by the creative agency Random Studio for the two exhibition floors of Osservatorio.

“Role Play” was curated by Melissa Harris.

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