Vanessa Beecroft Staged a Live Performance Celebrating 50 Years of Kappa’s Logo

The Italian artist shared her creative inspiration and artistic intentions with V.

During Art Basel Miami, Kappa celebrated 50 years of its iconic logo with an impactful, interpretative performance led by Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft. Known for her tableaux vivants (“living paintings”), which have historically been brought to life by women, Beecroft staged her first performance featuring participants of both sexes for the Italian sportswear label. Showcasing a diverse grouping of 100 street-cast models paired into couples to visually represent the Kappa logo, the Basel presentation brought the streetwear brand to life across 50 entirely different couples.  

Dressed in neutral tones, performers joined into positions resembling the iconic Kappa logo, a man and a woman sitting back to back, and then moved in choreographed harmony orchestrated by Beecroft. Inspired heavily by Zabriskie Point, a non-conformist work and cult film by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, the celebratory exhibition boasted the brand’s spontaneity with rich motion and fluid movement.

“My work has never before presented a physical interaction between a man and a woman. My perception of the relationship between two individuals has been nonexistent, influenced by my biography (a matriarchal family where no father nor brother were included) and by films such as Antonioni’s La Notte (1961) and L’Eclisse (1962),” explained Beecroft. “In these films, there is a lost communication between the two parties and we are left with an open ending. While my work is still self-referential, based on a study of the female form, and position in the physical and spiritual worlds, this performance is an opportunity for me to explore an interaction and new interpretation of a couple today.”

V had the chance to speak with Beecroft on her inspiration behind the live exhibition and her years of dedication to Italian artistry. Read what she had to share with us below.

V: You wanted to cast over a hundred people to participate in the conceptual performance, right?

Vanessa Beecroft: Yeah, because I was told it was the 50th anniversary of the birth of the logo, and therefore, there was a developed idea of having 50 logos. A logo is made out of two individuals, a male and a female, and so we can see 50 males and 50 females. Indigenous. 

V: Incredible. What about the Kappa logo drew your eye from an artistic standpoint? What about that symbol really struck a chord with you or sparked that curiosity? 

Vanessa Beecroft: So, my work is based on the study of the female, like autobiographical, biographical, self-referential, and so I never mixed males and females because that was not what my work was about. And when they used males in the case of the military or the immigrants, it was for other reasons. They were informing my work in some way, but they were always opposites. And then once I did the image for Vogue, oh man, the male was standing up and the woman was standing upside down. So, I never even conceived any work in which a male and a female interacted. I thought that this would be a challenge to try to create this image in which the two genders interacted for the first time. At the time, the logo was identified with the 70s and the attempt to smooth the differences and to equalize the rights of both sexes. I start from my point of view where women are not involved with males like in the logo. It’s more about them by themselves. 

V: Taking a closer look at the logo, I see that they have their hands on a chain. What interpretation did you take from it? 

Vanessa Beecroft: I was thinking they’re giving each other, they’re back to back. So somehow they’re not facing each other, and that corresponds very much with my perception of a couple—a male and a female—where they’re next to each other, but they’re looking apart.

V: Got it. So the separation is what unifies them. I think that’s a very interesting perspective and it’s funny because most people when they see a logo, they don’t analyze it very much. They just kind of associate it with a brand?

I was told that Kappa’s premise was to support these new ideas that were the progressive ideas of the 70s and to try to put together a male and a female in a few minutes in an equal standing point. So that was actually the brand itself. And so I as a Beecroft, I find it difficult to unite the two because I tend to lean toward the female side. I’m curious to see what happens if you put them side-by-side and I’m happy they’re back to back. They still maintain a distance that is probably just psychological. 

V: When you work on your different projects and different commissions, does that ever inform the next project?

Vanessa Beecroft: It does. It’s part of my biography, so it’s kind of in the air. It’s a sequence of events and it always informs. I’m 50, [just] like the logo. I was thinking in this part of my life, I have to be confronted with this issue that has been troubling me all my life. So, It’s interesting that today I have to do this work and maybe tomorrow I will work a bit in a deeper level on it. It’s one following the other. 

V: Wow. That’s amazing. Is there anyone you’re excited to show the exhibition to or are you just ready to show it to everyone who attends the fair? Is there a specific audience that you want to experience your work?

Vanessa Beecroft: No, I work thinking about a longterm effect. So I’m happy that there is a mixed audience: the audience from the street and the audience on the artwork. But my real interest is in the audience from the future, the audience that will get the image, the iconic image that I create. 

Without the audience, I will not do it. At the same time, in the moment, I don’t really care who is going to be there or not. 

V: More about the lasting effect. 

Vanessa Beecroft: Yeah. And sometimes the photographs are not even enough to represent it, but the images that came out in the 90s are still here, even if it’s not the exact picture, the impact that it had stayed. That’s the type of effect I’m looking for.

V: My last question, as an artist, where do you see the art world either going? How have you seen it evolve and where do you place yourself in it?

Vanessa Beecroft: I was never part of the art world in the sense that I never dissipated actively, so I ended up being involved. I fell in and out of it because I follow my own path. But of course, it’s my world and I’m faithful and devoted to it.

So whenever I explored other worlds, like fashion or Kenya, I was always very clear of what my purpose is. And it was not the fashion world. It was not Kenya’s world. So I placed myself as part of it, but in an inactively involved way, because it would be too demanding for me to be part of in an active way.

And that came with consequences, financially, and you know, lots of terrible consequences, but I don’t care because that’s my life and I want to live it in my way. That’s what I’m free to do. Not to belong to, not to be employed. So I’m not employed in that sense, but I’m very fond and devoted to the art world at large in a historical sense.

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