10 min. 1984 in English

written, produced, directed, photography and editing by Caterina Borelli© 1984 

RTBF-TV Award at the 1984 World Wide Video Festival, Den Haag


“…Borelli created her video piece ‘The Date’ in 1984 following her return to her native Rome after spending six years abroad. Chronicling her experience coming back to a city and country she had felt disconnected from when she left as a teenager, this piece is personal and political at the same time. Borelli calls it a part of her reconciliation with an Italy that her generation regarded with great ambivalence, divided between its communist and fascist affiliations. Growing up in a communist household with a mother who worked for an image archive of propaganda and other mass media, she says, trained her eye at an early age. It prepared her for a critical engagement with built forms of fascist propaganda, which is the subject of ‘The Date.’

In the video, a young woman prepares for a date, putting on make up in front of a mirror. The observer knows neither her destination nor whom she might meet. We follow her as she drives her car, finally arriving at a field rimmed with marble sculptures of male athletes… As the woman approaches one, its unusually large and imposing size looms. She picks up a bench, places next to one of the statues’ bases, and uses it to climb the pedestal. She affectionately rests her face on its gigantic foot and gazes up while embracing it great legs.

Borelli has expressed her conflicted feelings at the imposing architecture of this site, the Stadio dei Marmi (Stadium of the marbles), at the Foro Italico sports complex north of Rome. She finds their suggestion of historical authority to be both repelling and beautiful. They share the classical reference and over-scale of Michelangelo’s Moses or David, but lack the Manneristic logic; they make enigmatic claims to heritage in their abstraction and demonstrative poses. As Borelli’s protagonist approaches and caresses one of them, she physically stages the emotions of attraction and repulsion these structures trigger. Setting this encounter in a known gay cruising spot of 1980s Rome adds a sense of irony to this intimacy.”  Miriam Paeslack, booklet for the exhibit “Photographic recall” UB Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, Feb. 10 – May 12, 2019

“…Ambivalence and ambiguity particularly well illustrated in a video by the Italian artist, Caterina Borelli. It’s called ‘The Date,’ and shows a pretty young woman putting on lipstick and make up and we ultimately realize getting ready for a romantic occasion date that then has her getting into her car and heading out to what’s now called the Foro Italico, originally called Foro Mussolini, intended as the site of the 1940 Olympics…The main stadium there is surrounded by numerous monumental dimensions marble statues of athletes – all pretty much the same or similar impersonal heroic poses and facial expressions – one of which turns out to be the date – the object of the young woman’s affection which she demonstrates by climbing up the statue pedestal and nesting lovingly around one of the athlete’s marble feet, which is about as big – the foot – as the young woman herself…”

“Italian rationalist architecture in contemporary German art” by Jack Foran, The Public magazine, Buffalo, week of 3/28/19 to 4/10/19.