Among the baffling, the stupendous and the banal, everyone was amused by a work in Italy's pavilion. By Francesco Vezzoli, it is a trailer for a proposed remake of Gore Vidal's notorious film Caligula. Very funny and camp, it features Vidal himself plus an array of stars - including Adriana Asti anointing her cheeks with freshly produced sperm, an authentically bonkers Courtney Love as Caligula, and Helen Mirren herself in the largest wig you'll ever see as "the Empress Tiberius".
Costumes were apparently done by Donatella Versace ... Vogue has a photo of Mila Jovovich clad in her apparently-Roman attire. Perhaps it's useful to temper all this with some commentary from Slate (inter alia):
Then comes the next question: "What did you like?" This year, the most buzzed-about piece was probably Francesco Vezzoli's Caligula. The young Italian artist exhibited a trailer he'd made for the 1979 film, which was originally written by Gore Vidal and then badly botched by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, who produced it. Vezzoli convinced stars such as Benicio Del Toro, Milla Jovovich, and Courtney Love to appear in the five-minute video. Oddly, the trailer's pacing and histrionic tone seemed better-suited for pumping a summer blockbuster than the more historical and literary movie Vidal supposedly intended.
Nonetheless, in a generally well-mannered show, Vezzoli's work offered a radical change of pace, an assault upon the senses laced with celebrities, orgies, and gold-plated dildos. Most people walked out smiling. At the very least, the piece was new and fun, and it stood out among works that seemed either underpowered or overexposed.
Within hours, the mobile phones of Vezzoli's art dealers were pulsing with calls from collectors wanting to buy the piece (it's not for sale). Within days, the Gagosian Gallery was rumored to have added Vezzoli to its roster.
But by then, a third question had begun to circulate: "Do we, the art world, really like it that much?" Second-guessing their initial pleasure in viewing the piece, people started to wonder if they hadn't been suckered by Vezzoli's sex scenes and celebrity wattage.