Artists: Domenico Mangano & Marieke van Rooy
Exhibition title: Homestead of Dilution
Curated by: Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk
Venue: Nomas Foundation, Rome, Italy
Date: May 4 – July 28, 2017
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Nomas Foundation, Rome
The exhibition Homestead of Dilution presents the first outcome of a joint and collaborative practice between artist Domenico Mangano and architectural historian Marieke van Rooy. In their work they seek to explore and give insight into the commonly unobserved workings of psychiatric institutions that have lately become subject to the gradual dismantling of the welfare state in the Netherlands. In that and as part of an artist residency at Het Vijfde Seizoen (2015, Den Dolder, the Netherlands), the artists have interwoven the legacy of the remarkable experiment at Nieuw Dennendal–a 1970s countermovement in the world of mental healthcare– with perspectives on present-day care within the field of psychiatry. The exhibition at Nomas Foundation presents the outcome of their artistic research project, including the video work Homestead of Dilution, a series of sculptures, drawings and photographs. Their work could be marked as both a playful and critical commentary concerned with the myth of the normal, mental illness as a culturally manufactured paradigm, and the idealisation of individualism today.
The Nieuw Dennendal experiment became one of the symbols of the democracy movement in the 1970s in the Netherlands, and is relevant to consider within the context of the anti-psychiatry movement in Europe, taking place at the same period as the innovations within the psychiatric field conducted by psychiatrist Franco Basaglia in Italy. Core of the experiment at Nieuw Dennendal was the utopian concept of ‘dilution’: the idea of bringing together healthy and mentally ill people, as to overcome an increasing sense of polarisation and hierarchisation manifested in society at the time. Taking the ‘dilution’ experiment as their departure point, Mangano & van Rooy have conducted onsite fieldwork, observing and becoming part of the daily living and working practices of the patients currently inhabiting the psychiatric institution where the dilution experiment took place. Onsite, their working methods included the organisation of workshops, performances, archival research, and (film) documentation. The exhibition Homestead of Dilution is shaped as an integral presentation with the ‘concept of dilution’ as its common ground, and forming part of a wider investigation into apparent separations between centre versus periphery, illness versus sickness, normal versus healthy. Ultimately, the exhibition questions by what means the concept of ‘dilution’ could have the potential to bridge and unify radical forms of otherness as part of an artistic process, or perhaps life in general?
On the occasion of the exhibition, the coinciding publication Homestead of Dilution will be presented. Taking the shape of an extensive reader on the concept of dilution, the publication includes documentation of art works by the artists and texts by John Foot, Ilaria Gianni, Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, Marieke van Rooy, Aaron Schuster, and Esther Vossen, designed by Bardhi Haliti and published by Onomatopee.
Homestead of Dilution is part of the Dilution Project. This long term artistic research project on the heritage of the Nieuw Dennendal experiment is developed by Domenico Mangano & Marieke van Rooy in collaboration with Kunsthuis Syb, Het Vijfde Seizoen, Instituto Buena Bista, Onomatopee and the Mondriaan Fund.
Domenico Mangano (born in Palermo, IT, 1976) has worked as a visual artist since 2000. Marieke van Rooy (Weert, NL, 1974) studied art history and is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of the Built Environment, University of Technology Eindhoven. They have been working together as a duo since 2014. Their work has been shown amongst others at The Whitechapel Gallery (London), Gallery of Modern Art (Rome), Beaufort Triennial (Ostend), Prague Biennal I, De Kunsthal (Rotterdam), Casco/Fotodok (Utrecht), Futura (Prague), MOCA (Chicago), Palazzo Grassi (Venice), XIV Quadriennale (Rome), Vleeshal (Middelburg), 2ND Athens Biennial and Nomas Foundation (Rome). Their work is, amongst others, part of the Margulies Collection (Miami), GAM (Turin), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin), and a number of private collections.