Inside: A Cinematic Intersection of Art and Survival

KEY TAKEAWAYS
Inside is a groundbreaking psychological thriller that uniquely integrates art into the film's emotional narrative and survival theme, featuring real and replicated artworks by renowned living artists.
Italian curator Leonardo Bigazzi faced unprecedented challenges in staging the exhibition within the film, including complicated licensing agreements, artist collaborations, and selecting works that could be replaced or altered if damaged.
Artworks showcased in the film include pieces by Maxwell Alexandre, John Armleder, Maurizio Cattelan, Joanna Piotrowska, Egon Schiele, and Alvaro Urbano.
The protagonist, Nemo, activates the art and employs several pieces in the name of survival, showcasing the power and impact of art in both everyday life and extraordinary circumstances.
Inside's innovative approach to incorporating art in cinema has the potential to inspire future films to explore similar themes and collaborations, bridging the gap between the worlds of art and film, and fostering a greater appreciation for contemporary art and the artists behind the works.

In the groundbreaking psychological thriller Inside, Willem Dafoe plays Nemo, an art thief trapped in a luxurious Manhattan penthouse filled with original and replica works from some of the world’s most renowned living artists.

Italian curator Leonardo Bigazzi faced an unprecedented logistical challenge in staging the exhibition within the film.

His collaboration with the movie’s director, Vasilis Katsoupis, producer Giorgos Karnavas, and production designer Thorsten Sabel allowed them to select artworks that would serve specific scenes and contribute to the film’s emotional narrative.

Art Curator’s Unprecedented Challenge

Bigazzi’s task involved complicated licensing agreements, long discussions about the role of specific artworks in the movie’s plot, and questions about the distinction between a prop, a replica, and an artist’s original creation.

The film’s legal team was kept busy drafting contracts, some of which dictated that the doubles would be destroyed after production, while others were guaranteed to be returned intact.

A Sophisticated Selection for a Fictional Art Collector

To create a sophisticated selection of artworks for the unseen owner’s collection, Bigazzi included abstract pieces, strong design elements, political themes, and representations of elitism and wealth.

The film showcases various artistic mediums, with works from artists such as Maxwell Alexandre, John Armleder, Maurizio Cattelan, Joanna Piotrowska, Egon Schiele, and Alvaro Urbano.

These works help drive the emotional narrative of the film and emphasize Nemo’s psychological disruption after his entrapment.

The film showcases various artistic mediums, with works from artists such as Maxwell Alexandre, John Armleder, Maurizio Cattelan, Joanna Piotrowska, Egon Schiele, and Alvaro Urbano.

Artist Collaboration and the Film’s Unique Challenges

Bigazzi primarily collaborated with living artists for the film, as many artist foundations prohibited replicas of their works.

In fact, the film features 39 works by blue-chip artists, with five of them being original commissions.

He managed to convince many prominent artists to lend or create artworks for the film, thanks to the trust he had built with them over the years.

The artists featured in the film were excited about the possibility of their work reaching a wider audience that typically isn’t exposed to contemporary art.

However, some original works on set could not be insured due to risks like fire and water damage.

As a result, Bigazzi had to choose items that could either be replaced or that would become part of the work if damaged.

Art’s Role in Survival

Throughout the film, the value of the art collection takes on a cruel irony, as the trapped Nemo is the sole observer of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of art.

However, Nemo activates the art by speaking to it and staring at it, and the art shifts from a representation of its owner to a sinister nemesis as Nemo’s mental and physical deterioration accelerates.

Nemo also employs several artworks in the name of survival, such as a human-sized moth costume by Kosovar installation artist Petrit Halilaj.

A Legacy Beyond the Film

With the unique integration of real and replicated artworks in Inside, the movie presents an intriguing intersection of art and survival.

As art takes on a new purpose for the film’s protagonist, it showcases the power and impact of art in both everyday life and extraordinary circumstances.

This innovative approach to incorporating art in cinema could pave the way for future films to explore similar themes and collaborations, ultimately bridging the gap between the worlds of art and film.

Furthermore, it highlights the potential of art to inspire curiosity, reflection, and conversation among a diverse audience, fostering a greater appreciation for contemporary art and the artists behind the works

Craig Miller

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