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James vs Wines – The Highrise of Meanings

min read

Directed by Gianluca Vassallo and produced by Foscarini, the film tells the story of the icon of radical architecture, and founder of the SITE group, James Wines. The movie investigates the close relationship between the artist and the individual, between the architect and his humanity.

Different points of view and stories about the man and the artist are presented to the protagonist itself. After having spent his life imagining a world in which everything is deconstructed, ironic, overturned, daring and cultured, Wines is faced with how “the world” sees him, in a collective story about the artist-architect, that becomes also a film about the impact of lateral thinking in the community, in individuals, in the processes of change that cross the world.

The story of the collaboration between Foscarini and James Wines unfolds across a span of nearly 30 years. Its roots date back to 1991, with Table Light / Wall Light, the first piece made by Foscarini with Wines’ SITE group. Some years later, the paths of Foscarini and SITE crossed again, thanks to an extensive profile published in Inventario (the book-zine launched by Foscarini in 2010 as an original and independent forma to investigate the world of creativity and design culture).
This led to Foscarini’s idea of reviving the first project, transforming it into a collection of editions of lamps and objects: The Light Bulb Series – a signature collection based on reflection on the light bulb as archetype, with its typical rounded form, poetically interpreted in a series of surprising disruptions.

Today Foscarini, with its free spirit, completely leaves the scene to Vassallo and Wines, master of contemporary architecture and breaking.

“In my view, cinema serves to investigate human depth; and this is even more pertinent in the case of documentary works. It would have been easy to dig into the excellent archival materials, to add an interview and offer the audience yet another tribute to an artist and his work. But in the production of meaning – in cinema or in photography – the task of someone like me who brings his own restless doubts, his own curiosities, a worldview that wants to be clarified, in relation to a personality like Wines, can only be to seek the complexity of the man that nourishes the originality of his genius. My work cannot help but investigate the depth, the idiosyncrasies, the fears, the chaos of James, rather than the glory of Wines.”

Gianluca Vassallo
/ director of the film.

Shot in New York City, Watertown MN, Washington DC, Miami, Stone Ridge NY and Rome from October 2021 to February 2022, the film has been selected by the curators of Milano Design Film Festival 2022, the annual event that for ten years now has utilized cinema to engage a wider audience in relation to the most contemporary concepts of design and architecture, seen from unconventional vantage points.

  • James Wines
  • Movie

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