Critics’ Picks

View of “Domenico Mangano and Marieke van Rooy,” 2017.

View of “Domenico Mangano and Marieke van Rooy,” 2017.


Domenico Mangano and Marieke van Rooy

Nomas Foundation
Viale Somalia 33
May 4–July 28, 2017

In the 1970s, the Dutch town of Den Dolder embarked on an experimental attempt at communal living known as “dilation,” whereby psychiatric patients find healing and freedom by residing side by side with healthier people. In this show, organized by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, Domenico Mangano’s film Homestead of Dilution, 2016—halfway between documentary and dream—portrays the legacy of the practice in a cross section of Den Dolder’s current community.

Issues of mental health are already familiar to the Italian-born, Netherlands-based Mangano, who is collaborating with architectural historian Marieke van Rooy. Previously, in Birds Singing, Sandy Ground, 2014, the first video in an ongoing trilogy, the artist captured daily life in the De Wissel Center for Mental Health. In works on paper such as The Dilution Adhesives, 2017, and Het Vijfde Seizoen Diary, 2015, Mangano and van Rooy’s sketches and ideas expand upon and reinterpret archival material documenting the original movement, led by Carel Muller. A forest of ceramic-and-wood sculptures, titled Eight Proposals for a Mental Architecture, 2017, which resemble a mix of modernist architecture and Rorschach inkblots, represent different mental and perceptual states. Meanwhile, Donders, the Eternal Stone, 2017, is a reproduction of the now-demolished marble inscription from the Donders Pavilion, a structure from Den Dolder’s psychiatric institution. (The word donders, embossed in stone, means both “thunder” and “damn” in English.) Accompanying the work’s sculptural component is a sound track of a voice speaking the word as well—as if to express a specific moment of drama, but also a universal human condition.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.