NYsferatu by Andrea Mastrovito is a powerful public art project that engages diverse immigrant communities in telling their stories to the world.
Andrea Mastrovito and More Art (a non profit organization based in New York) are working on NYsferatu, an ambitious public art project that combines film, music, and community engagement to create a powerful and poignant statement about immigrant rights in today’s world. In NYsferatu, Murnau’s famous vampire, Count Orlok, is catapulted to present-day New York. The whole original movie, Nosferatu (1922), is entirely re-drawn, frame by frame, by the artist and a team of twenty assistants. In the process, they will create more than 35.000 drawings.
While all of the original characters remain the same – their movements, expressions, gestures and clothing – everything around them is transported to contemporary America. The result becomes a series of new backgrounds, new scenes, and title cards (it’s a silent movie) in which New York appears both as victim and victimizer, and in which the figure of the vampire can be read through different metaphors. On one side, Count Orlok’s shadow stretched through the streets of Manhattan immediately recalls the threat of terrorism that this city knows too well. On the other, the same vampire wandering alone and lost with his coffin, through the desolate, dark City looking for a house and finding the only place he belongs is on Ellis Island, becomes a clear metaphor of immigration and escape towards the dream of a better life.
Mastrovito explains: “NYsferatu is a colossal project I have had in mind for a long time. For years I thought it would have been impossible to achieve, but today, it's finally coming to light. I am working with More Art since 2014, moving forward extremely positively with both fundraising, the animations and the editing. New animated scenes come to life every day and it is magical to see them be born and subsequently grow from a simple pencil mark. The original thought behind the inception of this whole experience was in fact the need to scream the primacy of drawing in every field: drawing is at the beginning of each new work, even an idea is not yet an idea until it becomes a pencil sketch”.
Once finished with all the animations, with key organizational partners, More Art and Mastrovito will arrange hands-on workshops in which English as Second Language Learners can discuss the film and its implications. The workshops will culminate with participants rewriting part of the silent film’s title cards to reflect their respective community’s experience of making their home in a new city and overcoming obstacles of xenophobia and racism. In so doing the participants change the very meaning of the film. Then, More Art will present a series of free film screenings in parks, theatres and other locations across New York City. Each event will be accompanied by a live, original score commissioned specifically for NYsferatu.
Artist: Andrea Mastrovito
Production: MORE ART
With the support of: Galerie Art Bartschi & Cie; NEA (National Endowment for the Arts); NYSCA (New York Council on the Arts); The Rubin Foundation; Lambent Foundation; NYC Parks
Trailer: Yanzi srl