The Feast of Trimalchio
AES + F, Still: “The Feast of Trimalchio”, 2009, 3-Kanal-Installation, 69 Min. 20 Sek., Courtesy Sammlung Goetz
In its installation The Feast of Trimalchio, the Russian artist collective AES + F depicts a paradise, an oasis of relaxation furnished with all the luxury that one could imagine. Based on the fragment of the novel Satyricon by Petronius Arbiter, in which the former slave Trimalchio – now a rich man – sends out invitations to excessive parties, the artists stage an ideal vacation resort with a Caribbean beach, snowy slopes for winter sports and ostentatious buildings of diverse cultures. It is an island of mass tourism for the wealthy, but one on which the guests – all clothed in white – seem rather to be in a sanatorium. The staff do their best to take care of all the guests’ needs, be they therapeutic, culinary or sexual. But the roles of the participants continually shift: The staff become those who are waited on; the guests bring them food and take care of them. In this manner, the artists integrate a Carnival-like element into the luxurious vacation ambiance that calls to mind the Roman saturnalia.
Underlaid by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante as well as electronic music, the computer-animated scenery is greatly decelerated and continually uses individual frames that are reminiscent of paintings. The characters in the film approach each other in silence, communicating only via gestures, thus remaining part of a completely artificial staging of a perverted vacation paradise.