The Trussardi Foundation organizes the first institutional anthology of the young Diego Marcon

The talented Diego Marcon, on the rise after last year's Venice Biennale, arrives at his first institutional anthological exhibition: the Trussardi Foundation in Milan's Teatro Gerolamo venue is in fact hosting "Dramoletti," June 5-30.

In Milan, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, to celebrate its 20 years of activity (“nomadic,” it tends to specify: in fact, the Foundation has no permanent home), is proposing from June 5 to 30 an exhibition with which it continues its “mobile museum” project led by Beatrice Trussardi and Massimiliano Gioni, and in which it returns to the place where it all began. From June 5 to June 30, 2023, the Nicola Trussardi Foundation is therefore proposing Dramoletti, the first institutional anthological exhibition in Italy of Diego Marcon (Busto Arsizio, 1985), one of the most interesting and appreciated Italian artists of the latest generation, in constant ascent especially after his participation in last year’s Venice Biennale. For this new foray, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi has chosen as its venue the Teatro Gerolamo, a puppet theater that has become famous as “la piccola Scala” because of its miniature size and fine architectural details designed in the 19th century by Giuseppe Mengoni, the same architect of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and the same place where the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi’s touring journey began 20 years ago with Elmgreen and Dragset’s installation Short Cut (2003). Made famous by the Colla Brothers’ puppet shows, rediscovered in the postwar period by Paolo Grassi and relaunched in the 1970s by Umberto Simonetta, the Teatro Gerolamo retains memories of fairy tales and enchanted atmospheres that find an eerie symmetry in the works of Diego Marcon.

With his films, videos and installations, Marcon constructs mysterious chamber dramas in which puppets, children and creatures suspended between the human and the post-human move. Mixing melodrama and special effects, Marcon imagines a new humanity shaken by deep moral doubts and trapped in distressing actions that repeat themselves endlessly. Installed in this theater-bombonier, Marcon’s works spin on themselves like dancers in a hypnotic music box, evoking Joseph Cornell’s microworlds, the fantasies of Carlo Collodi and Lewis Carroll, and the so-called “dramoletti” of Thomas Bernhard, from whom the exhibition takes its title.

The exhibition opens in the theater’s central hall with a new presentation of Ludwig (2018), a digital animation in which a child - aboard a ship at the mercy of a storm - sings one of Marcon’s typical opera arias, in this case performed with the collaboration of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala’s Children’s Voices Choir. Illuminated by the light of a match and shrouded in the darkness of the hold illuminated by sudden flashes of lightning, Ludwig recites a strange lullaby in which he declares his weariness and desire to disappear forever. The title, the soundtrack and the evocative theater setting seem to evoke the figure of Ludwig II of Bavaria, the so-called Mad King, who devoted his life and finances to building castles and reckless architectural fantasies and supporting the dreams of Richard Wagner, for whom he also financed the Bayreuth theater. Declared insane and deposed because of his eccentricity and insane spending, Ludwig died by drowning but ended up embodying the myth of an existence devoted to art beyond all reason. Portrayed by Luchino Visconti in his film of the same name and admired even by Walt Disney, who chose Ludwig’s castle as a model for Disneyland, Ludwig of Bavaria may have nothing in common with Marcon’s child, but his video evokes atmospheres in which reality and delirium intermingle in complex and dangerous entanglements, worthy of the Mad King’s madness.

A similar tension - suspended between reality and hallucination, between sincerity and simulation - returns in the work Il malatino (2017), installed on the lower floor of the Teatro Gerolamo. In this short animation, a feverish child struggles to breathe in bed. The title and the protagonist’s emaciated face recall characters from Victorian literature or the Heart book, immersed in memories of recent and distant pandemics.

In the gallery and gallery spaces, Marcon installed Untitled (Head falling) (2015), a series of 16-millimeter film projections on which he drew - directly coloring and etching the film - portraits of faces and heads that seem to fall asleep.

In the room at the top of the stairs, Marcon stages the drama of The Parents’ Room (2021), a work presented at the Venice Biennale in which actors wear masks modeled on their likenesses, but made monstrous by the absence of expression. The impassibility of the figures contrasts with the violence of the narrative and the melody of the soundtrack that makes this mysterious fragment of the theater of cruelty in grand guignol sauce even more alienating. A little further on, next to the puppets that acted in the theater, a series of sketches of empty beds alludes perhaps to another loss or the end of childhood.

From this and the other works in the exhibition emerges a world inhabited by creatures that mix natural and artificial in complex combinations, all equally disturbing. Marcon’s are new monsters: surrogates, replicants, more or less artificial intelligences, which are not too different from those that have populated the history of literature for centuries - puppets, dolls, golems, Frankenstein, robots... Marcon’s computer puppets, celluloid heads, and latex masks are the new avatars of a post-human genius desperately seeking in plastic and digital to unearth a trace of truth. In this search, Marcon discovers that the human hides in the flawed, the dark, the excess, the pathological and the evil even, and that art perhaps has the thankless task of bending technology toward the vileness of humanity.

Diego Marcon’s exhibition at Teatro Gerolamo is part of a series of important exhibition projects carried out since 2003 by the Nicola Trussardi Foundation, under the chairmanship of Beatrice Trussardi and with the artistic direction of Massimiliano Gioni. For all information you can visit the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi website.

Image: Diego Marcon, Ludwig, 2018. Installation at the Teatro Girolamo. Photo by Marco De Scalzi. Courtesy of Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan.

The Trussardi Foundation organizes the first institutional anthology of the young Diego Marcon
The Trussardi Foundation organizes the first institutional anthology of the young Diego Marcon

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