An Italian Artist’s Gender-Flipping Twists on Classic Movie Posters

For her new exhibition at Charlie James Gallery, “My Film History - Daniela Comani’s Top 100 Films,” Italian artist Daniela Comani has reimagined classic movie posters, while foregrounding gender and sexuality and their role in film. 

For this series, Comani pulled together her own list of 100 iconic films, presenting recreations of their original posters, but with a twist. Her posters disrupt any previous conception of their imagery and the films they represent, most often by switching the titular character’s gender, graphically altering the text or image. Employing parody and détournement—putting a modern spin on their original artistic elements—Comani beckons viewers to engage in a contemporary dialogue on gender and culture. 

By subverting the films’ male- and female-specific plotlines, Comani creates new, imagined stories. Works like All the President’s Women and and Queen Kong (both 2012) play on familiar titles, enabling a clear narrative to emerge for viewers; these reimagined  titles could never have become part of the cinematic canon. Many of the works, like Todo Sobre Mi Padre or Beau De Jour (both 2012), undermine the central plot’s treatment of feminine stereotypes. 

Comani’s practice, concerned with issues of collective history, cultural stereotypes, and the mediatization of memory, hits a nerve that resonates in the present: just last spring, the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that only 15 percent of the major films made in 2012 featured female leads.

This “Top 100 Films” series is the continuation of a gender-flipping body of work, which in the past has taken classic books as its subject. Comani’s work is especially prescient in the current cultural climate, in which much press attention has been given recently to issues such as the Bechdel test and Micol Hebron’s “Gallery Tally,” which points out the statistical dominance of male artists in the art world. Given that she is included in collections across the world and has exhibited internationally, including at the 54th Venice Biennale, Comani is finding success despite the odds, and she is using it to highlight the issues that fellow females face, be they artists or not.

—K. Sundberg

My Film History - Daniela Comani’s Top 100 Films” is on view at Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, Jan. 10–Feb. 28, 2015.

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