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Domenico MANGANO - FIT (2012)

curated by Francesca Referza

After his Turin debut in the Exit group show in 2002 at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, curated by Francesco Bonami, and a solo show two years later at the Alberto Peola gallery, curated by Marcello Smarrelli, Domenico Mangano (Palermo, 1976) is coming back to Turin at Velan Center with FIT. A solo show that records his recent move from Sicily to Holland, through a series of works reflecting on the themes of adapting / fitting. Inspired by a picture taken in 2010 in his home town, Termini Imerese, near Palermo, in which the Fiat logo appears, incidentally missing the letter A, the artist presents a wide-ranging reflection on the idea of a forced change that makes us have to adapt, to "fit".

The Fiat factory was established in Termini Imerese in 1970 thanks to a contribution from the Region of Sicily to the Turinese Fiat. In the 1980s, there were 3,200 employees at the factory, which then was cut in half from the 1990s to the present, after a series of company re-organizations. The Fiat factory in Termini was seen as not very competitive economically because the parts that were necessary for the construction of the cars had to come from northern Italy, therefore raising the production costs. It is now on the list of factories to be closed. The artist explained, "I grew up with that factory. I especially remember them building a highway that went directly to the factory. That highway was built where there was a boardwalk and the boats of local fishermen. From the memories of my parents and the town locals, I know that there were originally artichoke fields and citrus groves on the land where the factory was built. This was a sociocultural shift from being farmers to factory workers that deeply affected the entire community. From the general to the personal and back again, in a constant osmosis, as is seen in the depths of Domenico Mangano's work, the exhibition, starts with the small image of FIT to talk about adapting / fitting, socially, culturally and linguistically, always examining it through the lens of paradox.

The humorous, paradoxical connection between the Sicily from which Mangano comes and the Holland of his daily life, as he currently lives in Amsterdam, is established in Nederlands op straat (2012). Playing with the stereotypes of both places, Domenico Mangano puts them in tight connection, imagining an accelerated Dutch course for aspiring drug dealers. The result is an entertaining verbal interpretation by the artist who, in a succession of incomprehensible Dutch words, recognizes typical words of a criminal street jargon, mixed with others that are the epitome of Italianness abroad, like pizza and mozzarella. The artist explains, "It should be emphasized that these are all known phrases, taken from real wiretaps by police from the 1980s to the present.

With Un giuramento sigillato con il burro è un giuramento che si dimentica presto (2010), he stays in the realm of social-linguistic ideas. Mangano analyzed and freely interpreted a number of Dutch proverbs whose recurrent theme is butter, in keeping with Dutch food traditions. Eight expressions, that to the non-Dutch might seem rather cryptic, which translates attitudes and behavior through the direct evocation of the word "butter. Using the original paper used in Italy in the 1950s to wrap the butter from the "Ente Comunale di Consumo di Roma", Domenico Mangano gives a visual and graphic illustration of eight Dutch proverbs about butter in a very personal union of Italianness and Dutchness. Here too we can say it is about "fitting". It is, however, a soft visual adapting, definitely less traumatic than that suggested in the image of FIT and less grotesque than that created in the Nederlands op straat audio.

The War Game video (2012), made specifically for the Turin show, represents that unnatural adapting that all of us are forced to undergo, at some point in our lives, whether in our private, working or social lives. In this work, it is about the peculiarly Dutch custom of alerting the community with an alarm that sounds throughout Holland every Monday of the month. Originally used to warn of danger during World War II, the alarm has stayed to this day to remind the Dutch of their situation of potential danger living constantly under sea level, with all the possible negative consequences thereof.  Here, Mangano considered the progressive adapting that the Dutch have made to this sound alarm. The original purpose of signaling danger eventually gave to way that of the present as a kind of acoustic marking of social time, fairly annoying, but still tolerated by most Dutch adults. In the video, this sound alarm is the soundtrack to a series of postcards, or tableaux vivants, as the artist calls them, of a daily Amsterdam, far from the stereotypes for which it is usually known. There are working-class apartment buildings overlooking a peaceful inner courtyard with a tree, an area with a children's play space, balconies of houses in the classic red brick facades lit by a wan spring sun; there is a cemetery of tombs with an abandoned and vaguely romantic air, and a decrepit wood hut near a stream.

Moving from the personal to the collective, Domenico Mangano's work has a special lightness, which I think this comes in part from his Sicilianness. It lets him explore issues of shared interest that are often complex and contradictory, starting from attention to the tiny details of the setting or seemingly secondary aspects of an event he is observing. I'm a very curious person, the artist says, whose foremost quality is his ability to join his instinctive curiosity with an amazing ability to analyze. Each work is lightened by a combination of humor, playfulness, a sense of the tangible, and, less often, melancholic resignation.


Image caption: Domenico Mangano, FIT (2010), Lambda print, 26.89 x 37.95 cm

We would like to thank the Magazzino d'Arte Moderna gallery, Rome.


We would like to thank for its support: Region of Piedmont
The exhibition will be open from May 23 to July 7, 2012 with the following schedule:
from Thursday to Saturday, 3:30 PM - 7:30 PM.


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