Exhibit features 60 blown-up frames from films

A lot of filmmakers think they’re artists. But with David Cronenberg, it’s official.

Right next to its exhibit of Etruscan artifacts, Rome’s prestigious Palazzo delle Espozizioni museum is presenting “Chromosomes,” an exhibit by the filmmaker.

Cronenberg’s films have always taken ordinary events and made them seem bizarre (and vice-versa). Similarly, the exhibit turns traditional movie-themed exhibits upside down.

In a project organized by Italian company Volumnia and coordinated by Domenico De Gaetano, the vast white museum space features 60 blown-up frames from his films. But they’re on canvas, giving them a painterly quality. It’s hard to identify most of the films — but that’s the point. The shots of hands, feet, fires, disorienting interiors and distorted body parts don’t conjure familiar films; they create a disquieting mood all their own.

The show also offers a hefty catalog featuring an intro by Cannes’ Thierry Fremaux and commentaries by dozens of folk including William Gibson, Dante Ferretti, David Henry Hwang and Viggo Mortensen.

The good news for Cronenberg: The show (presented in association with the third Rome Film Fest) is well received and should tour to other museums.

The bad news for Hollywood agents: Filmmakers may start asking for museum exhibits in their contracts: “But what I really want to do is curate …”

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