Creative Director Niccolò Lapo Latini is taking a dagger to the heart of the ‘American Dream’ in his new visual project.
Does it still make sense to talk about the American dream? Is America still the most powerful country and an icon of freedom? These are the questions artistic polymath and Italian Creative Director, Niccolò Lapo Latini, seeks to answer in his latest collaborative endeavour.
Partnering up with the revered Liberation France photo reporter Boby Allin for a socio-cultural excursus on the current state of the United States, the pair are fixated on facing the topos of the “American Dream” by debunking the nation’s preconceptions and false appearances in light of the country’s recent election and attempted insurrection at The Capitol. Accompanied by a curious triptych of works by Banksy, modified by the Italian Mixed Artist Rebecca Coltorti under the direction of Latini himself, the artist wants to remind us that, sometimes, not everything is as it seems.
“The American dream has always been a utopia,” says Latini of the project, “also reworked by cinematography, exciting, inspiring, motivating but still a utopia deriving from an important post-war heritage that has placed America as a symbol in the eyes of the whole world of freedom, evolution and hope. The country where success and economic well-being were guaranteed with commitment.”
But how does that hold up in 2021? The auteur is constantly debating the questions he poses, calling into question the authentic mirror of reality at all times. From the collapse of the Twin Towers back in 2001, to far more recent political movements gaining traction under the dubious rule of Donald Trump, all are what Latini deems “questionable facts – that evoke heated dissensions and confrontations, real weaknesses for the United States but they no longer arouse total surprise. They are internal civil ‘conflicts’ and they are not an external threat but they are still the symptom of a mechanism that has not worked for a long time,” he deliberates, meaning the much-revered myth of the ‘American Dream’ “has probably dissolved.”
Boby Allin is similarly prophetic about the future of the world’s Western superpower: “I don’t see how things can remain the same after what we experienced with Donald Trump.” The rise of the far-right and even Trump’s own election profoundly shook Allin’s world view, bringing a darker side of politics previously relegated to internet forums and Fox News straight onto our Twitter feeds. “No one would think of [Trump] as the President 2 years before,” he argues of the countries paradoxical nature. Allin’s scepticism is, however, slightly curbed by Biden’s election and the alleged triumph of democracy this past December. “We can now hope again for a brighter future, in terms of social matters at least, and health politics.”
Circling back to Latini’s visual project, completed with the talented Rebecca Coltorti, “it seemed to me the most direct way to represent the current situation in the United States combined with a possible prediction about the country’s future,” says Latini. “We have used the American flag, which has always been a symbol of freedom and progress, placing it in very specific contexts and in different conditions. A phase of decay – a phase of annihilation – a phase of restructuring. It is not a definitive, completed work but a provocation launched to the public and a parenthesis left open.”
Ultimately, Latini’s goal is to exploit the narrative potential of his photos, provoking the sensitivity of the public in the process as he tackles themes of representation, fake news, and the impossibility of deciphering between what’s real and imagined.