14 March 1974


Fernando De Filippi
Original sound

To be someone else. This is the obsession behind Fernando De Filippi's performance 'Substitution'. We are in Milan, at 14 Via Maroncelli and it is 14 March 1974. Substitution takes place through one hundred and fifty "make-up" steps in which the artist progressively appropriates the identity of what he considers to be the greatest revolutionary of the 20th century: Vladimir Ilic Lenin. With the collaboration of Gianni Baratto, Marco Poma, Claudio Cavalli, Antonio Miano, Fernando Tonello, Etta De Filippi and Libero Politi, a photographic series and this film, which animates the transformation by making it visible step by step, emerge from the performance. The complex relationship with ideology is the dominant theme of De Filippi's art throughout the 1970s and, as a reflection, of his contemporary film production. The image of Lenin from pop icon protagonist of his paintings becomes a private icon, when the artist appropriates it, literally substituting himself for it. The process of 'substitution' immortalised in the film is thus part of an irreversible ritual, performed in an attempt to reset one's identity in the name of an ideal. But the identification for De Filippi 'is of an essentially existential order, a way of participation by appropriation in levels almost of daily frequentation, in the precisely intimate, domestic sphere.' Lenin is now one of us.