"Untitled (A-Line)," 2002, by Adam McEwen Courtesy of the artist and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery

Untitled (A-Line), 2002, by Adam McEwen Courtesy of the artist and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery

The appropriation by Adam EcEwen of this infamous war photograph makes for one of the most exhilarating images I have seen in some time. The 1945 photo documents the execution and subsequent hanging of Benito Mussolini and lover Clara Petacci in front of a gas station in a small Milan square. Cropped and enlarged to outsized proportions, the image, turned on its head, presents a radically different read from the original, transformed from brutal public hanging into a delirious private moment. When I view this work two competing narratives fight for dominance. The first is the fulfillment of a lover’s suicide pact, which suggests the couple jumping to their deaths in an instant of willful abandon; the other presents a couple of bloodied angels soaring high in the sky, their rapturous spectral gaze fixed firmly on a heavenly prize.

Ciara Ennis, Curator

 

Further Reading