Film: Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back

October 26 | 10:30
90 Minutes | Tin Pan Theater

“Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back” makes an unconventional yet compelling case for the profundity of the artist’s elaborate sculptural jokes. “I think there is too much work that is just about being a picture on the wall that we are contented looking at,” says Cattelan in the 2017 documentary about the Italian artist and provocateur. “I think art has to be somehow disruptive to then reconfigure opinions and limits.” As a classic Cattelan-ian disruption, all the interviews with the artist in the film are actually with his longtime stand-in, the curator Massimiliano Gioni. This sleight of hand, apparent from the first minutes to art world cognoscenti but only acknowledged two thirds of the way through the film, lends an air of deception to the entire documentary that’s reminiscent of Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Here, the bait-and-switch – an ongoing collaboration between Cattelan and Gioni since 1998 – keeps the informed viewer on high alert and adds a shade of suspicion to every legitimately insightful comment Gioni-as-Cattelan makes. It must also be noted that Gioni’s performance is superb, especially in one sequence that cuts between his comments as himself and as Cattelan about the origins of their collaboration, evoking shades of Willem Dafoe’s one-man conversation in “Spider-Man.”