Diego Marcon

The Parents’ room

A solo exhibition of new work by Diego Marcon (b. 1985, Busto Arsizio, Italy), curated by Eva Fabbris and Andrea Viliani, with a major new film, The Parents’ Room (2021), that premiered in July at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival. The work also enters the permanent collection of the Museo Madre.

The Parents’ Room is a dark recital of tragedy and ambivalence. The narrative follows the operatic account of a man, perched on the edge of an unmade bed, who sings of the murders of his wife and two small children, and his own suicide. The scene is peaceful; snow drifts past the open window and a blackbird’s song provides the melody for the father’s account. The juxtaposition of the domestic setting with the characters’ misfigured forms and the unfolding account of their twisted fate elicits feelings of confusion and revulsion. The employment of CGI effects and prosthetics gives rise to an uncanny, cartoonish characterization. The hyper-realistic masks lend them a puppet-like form, rendering their movements reminiscent of stop-motion animation and further cultivating a distortion of reality that is characteristic of Marcon’s work.

Film frame, 2021

The event evoked in The Parents’ Room is, therefore, a manifest mise en scene. The less equivocal element in it is the realism of the environment. In the exhibition design, conceived by the artist for the presentation at Madre, the standard bedroom where the action takes place thinly expands, proposing an architectural continuation between the film’s domestic interior and the exhibition venue, and suggesting to visitors that they are passing through an uncannily similar space to that wherein the events of the drama took place. This element of engagement is further strengthened by the structure of the film as a loop, so that the vivacity of the story alternates with a phase of prolonged silence and an almost sculptural stillness. In the endless and ambiguous succession of these two moments, the mystery of what really happened to the family featured in this artwork is never solved.

Frame film, 2021

Installation view, 2021

The Parents’ Room is part of Marcon’s ongoing investigation into representations of reality through the destructuring of cinematic language. Exquisitely shot on 35 mm film and soundtracked with an original musical score, composed by Federico Chiari and recorded at London’s Trinity School of Music, the film is a structuralist pastiche which eerily evokes the Golden Age of musical cinema and subverts codified genres like horror, slapstick comedy, musicals, and cartoons. As in Marcon’s previous works, most notably Monelle (2017) and Ludwig (2018), his interest in the more somber realms of the human psyche is represented by the recurrent motif of childhood to evoke a primary, vulnerable and potent human condition.

Installation view, 2021

Frame film, 2021

Diego Marcon
The Parents’ room

Museo Madre, Naples
16 September – 8 November 2021

CREDITS
Courtesy the artist; Fondazione Donnaregina per le arti contemporanee, Naples.
Photo: Roberto Apa