* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
Diego Marcon (Busto Arsizio, 1985) studied at IUAV (Venice) and Scuola Civica di Cinema, Televisione e Nuovi Media di Milano (Milan). His work has been exhibited at Artspace (Auckland); Catalyst Arts (Belfast); Museion (Bolzano); ODD (Bucarest); Museo Villa Croce (Genova); Pornanteau (Geneva); Whitechapel Gallery (London); Matadero (Madrid); Careof, Gasconade, PAC e Peep-Hole (Milan); MACRO e Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Rome); IFFR (Rotterdam); OCAT (Shanghai); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin); Centre international d’art et du paysage (Vassivière).
After having completed your formation in Venice and having lived in Paris for two years, in 2015 you came back to Milan as the first artist in residence of Careof’s project Performing Archive. How was this experience?
When I arrived in Milan, I was happy to come back to live here, to leave Paris. Performing Archive is a project that Martina Angelotti has started during my residence and initially many aspects of the program had not yet been defined. This allowed us to plan the exhibition carefully and to calibrate the residence according to the product requirements and works of the exhibition itself. During the months at Careof I made a series of films which crystallize some thoughts that ran through my work for some time.
You said that these works are the result of a process that separates them quite clearly from your previous production modes…
At the time I began to abandon a production process which was more familiar to me, for the benefit of other experimental methods. Among these, the film series Untitled (Head falling), five animations painted and scraped on 16mm film.
In what do they differ from your previous approach?
I am not interested in distancing myself from a specific approach, but I want to abandon a familiar, tested, somehow safe process, and to proceed by intuition and observation, by trials, through a direct confrontation with the profession and the matter.
You had already shown your work in Milan, in a solo exhibition at Gasconade in 2013: how was your experience to interact with that reality?
Gasconade marked the fresh beginning of my love affair with Milan, it somehow changed my view of the city. I lived elsewhere when the dialogue with Michele D’Aurizio began. During the work and the preparation I learned to love some aspects of Milan, and to lay my eyes on places which I hadn’t focused on before. Milan is a city with a discreet beauty; it emerges through corners, glimpses, porches, details… Each of these details makes it a wonderful, austere city. Milan is not a contemporary city, it is a modern city – in the sense of modernist; it is its constant rattling, it is the work that shapes it and which proceeds focused and rigorously. It is a city rich in recent past, it has a strong and at the same time threadbare, faded identity. Once you have noticed this discreet attitude, you cannot but take care of it. I believe that the “care”, understood in this sense, is one of the most beautiful and important things that Gasconade has forged.
In the past you have often operated by using the place where you were as a starting point: for both your personal research and radical residence experiences like those of Ile de Vassiviére and Perarolo. What difference does it make for you to metabolize either a chosen or an assigned context?
I never metabolize places, this would mean to become impermeable to them. Anyone who thinks that happiness stays in New York and love in Moscow, is one who drags his sadness to New York and his hatred to Moscow. “Only to few spirits it is given to discover that things and beings exist”. Through my work I try to get close to places and things, but a point of contact and unveiling is denied in advance.
In the past you’ve worked several times with Anna Franceschini and Federico Chiari, how did these collaborations come up and evolve?
They both have been friends for a long time. I met Anna during the years of the School of Cinema. We immediately established an intense and radical friendship: as long as we lived in the same town, our relationship has been the site of continuous ideas and projects. I know Federico since high school, already at that time he produced music. He edited the sound part of each of my works, and together we founded the DANCEHOLE Records Project. Apart from the collaborations, Federico mainly deals with sound and has a quite critical look on contemporary art. This allows a confrontation on the work that I could barely have with another visual artist. He has a careful look at the aspects that may seem marginal, or central, but latent, and that helps me to focus. Both remain two of the people with whom I have the most intense and crucial confrontations and at the same time two of the searches I most appreciate.
Are there other people, artists in Milan with whom you have had the opportunity to interact or the work of whom you follow?
I have repeated interactions with a number of figures of the service industry.