MAXXI Bulgari Prize 

For the occasion of the MAXXI Bulgari Prize, Curated by Giulia Ferracci, with a shortlist composed by Diego Marcon, Talia Chetrit, and INVERNOMUTO, we had a conversation with the winner, Diego Marcon.

CURA.: In the video Ludwig presented at MAXXI, the image of a child welcomes us at the end of a dark corridor – singing melancholically, immersed in the darkness, barely illuminated by the flame of the match that highlights his features, large dark eyes and a mass of blond hair. In this video, like other works in your earlier and subsequent production (La miserabile,  Monelle,  Il malatino), children are the protagonists. Is there an autobiographical aspect, or are these paradigms of a contemporaneity that increasingly evades taking responsibility for the weakest? Should these children be read in an intimate, private or political sphere?

DM: There is no distinction between private and political. In fact, I believe that the political struggle is mainly dealt with on an intimate, private and sentimental level, because I think it is in the spheres of intimacy, privacy and the sentimental that the political strategies that we live attack most violently.

CURA.: The representation of the childhood world places you in the company of illustrious predecessors. I am thinking of the children of Elmgreen and Dragset, huddled, annihilated, at the crossroads between their childhood and adult life, or the children of Maurizio Cattelan, also a paradigm of a necessary provocation, violent and at the same time ironic. In your case the feeling that seems to prevail is rather melancholic. The melancholic sentiment itself has a long tradition... To what extent do these references stimulate the imaginative freedom of the artistic act?

DM: Melancholy is in part the heart of my work because my work stems from the attempt to circumscribe a loss that the object does not know – something lost since time immemorial. The figure of the child (and the girl) around which some of my works take shape is a topos of Western representation. This archetype interests me above all in its figurative dimension – that of minor and sentimental painting, and of illustration for children – and literary – that of Feuilleton, for children and young people.

CURA.: “Oh Lord am I exhausted / I feel so low and blue / I’d like to kick the bucket / then it would all be through / And yet ” As in the ancient nursery rhymes and litanies the written verses and the melody composed for Ludwig have the characteristic of being memorized and repeated with ease, but at the same time they address complex issues such as depression and suicide. What kind of collaborations did you use for the composition of the music which is undoubtedly a central element of the work?

DM: The text of Ludwig Aria was written by me, the musical composition for piano and voice by Federico Chiari, while the recording was made in collaboration with the Chorus Voci Bianche of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala of Milan. I have known Federico since high school. Above all, our friendship has taken shape from the sharing of a way of listening and looking at things which I think is very similar, as well as a precise and personal way of working, developed through years of collaboration. In fact Federico has participated in the making of my work as a sound engineer and sound designer since 2008. The sound aspect of all my work is very important, and the comparison with the sensitivity and methodology of Federico are also of fundamental importance in the process of designing the work. It is the first time that my video, as a structuring element, has a piece of music, and could not have been anyone else but Federico to compose Ludwig Aria.

CURA.: Your practice takes place in the field of animation and, specifically for this work, uses advanced technologies such as computer-generated imagery (CGI), which in recent years has become one of the fundamental tools in fantasy and sci-fi film production. Which films that have amazed you the most and stimulated your imagination?

DM: I'm neither a big fan or an expert of recent animated films that use CGI sophisticated way – like those of Pixar for example – but I like going to the cinema to see blockbusters or big productions, basically movies where the film's technological power is heavily exploited. Among the films which I prefer are horror films, because they have as their aim to create a tension and to frighten the viewer for whom, even if bad, they almost always have some kind of gimmick or formal solution that I find interesting anyway.

MAXXI Bulgari Prize
by Leonardo Caldana

MAXXI, Rome 
June 1 – Nov 4, 2018