The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University invites you to the Opening Reception for the Fall, 2006 Premio New York Exhibition:

EVA and FRANCO MATTES (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG) present 13 Most Beautiful Avatars, a portrait series at the Italian Academy and in an online exhibit organized by Rhizome and co-presented by the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Matteses have been living in the virtual world, Second Life, for over a year, exploring its terrain and interacting with its peculiar inhabitants. The result of their “video-game flanerie” is a series of portraits, entitled “13 Most Beautiful Avatars.” Not unlike Warhol’s entourage of stars, captured in the “13 Most Beautiful Boys” and “13 Most Beautiful Women” portrait series, the Matteses’ “13 Most Beautiful Avatars” captures the most visually dynamic and celebrated “stars” of Second Life.

The portraits reflect Second Life aesthetics, featuring the bright colors, “artificial” light, broad flat areas, 3D shapes, and surreal perspectives that are typical of this virtual world. Overall, the series draws on the technological developments which allow the creation of alternate identities within simulated worlds. Despite the relative newness of using video game-derived source materials, the avatars’ icons recall questions common to earlier eras of portraiture, including the cultural and psychological context of the images, and the relationships between high art and subculture, between contemporary art and “traditional” art forms, and between art and life itself.

Concurrent with the show at the Italian Academy is an online exhibition organized by Rhizome and co-presented by the New Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition, in Second Life’s increasingly popular Ars Virtua gallery, mirrors the Italian Academy’s art gallery, and is visible here:

Highlights of the online exhibition will also be projected during the opening reception

The Premio New York is sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Academy and the Italian Cultural Institute of New York.

Few of the avatar paintings will be shown by Postmasters, the Matteses New York gallery, at the PULSE Art Fair in Miami, and a portfolio of prints produced by Jean-Yves Noblet Contemporary Prints is also available.