Critics’ Picks

Michael Dean, The End, 2020, foam, cable ties, steel, concrete, coirmatting, speakers, turntables and associated amplifying equipment,paperback books vinyl discs, dimensions variable. Installation view, Fondazione Converso, Milan, 2020.

Michael Dean, The End, 2020, foam, cable ties, steel, concrete, coir
matting, speakers, turntables and associated amplifying equipment,
paperback books vinyl discs, dimensions variable. Installation view, Fondazione Converso, Milan, 2020.

Milan

Michael Dean

Fondazione CONVERSO
Piazza S. Eufemia, 1
January 23–February 15, 2020

In 1945, Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta Petacci were murdered and hung in Piazzale Loreto in Milan. For this solo exhibition, the British artist Michael Dean references the image of the corpses—which were made available for collective, heinous violence—as a recent historical example of visceral emotionality. Occupying Fondazione Converso, a two-room, sixteenth-century former Roman Catholic church, Dean’s installation investigates the nature of the space to establish a holistic cosmology of sculpture, sound, and performance.

The End, 2020, the sole work on view, builds on a new piece of Dean’s writing with which it shares a title. Interested in the Mannerist church’s auditory features, the artist separately recorded himself in one of its chambers and a female performer in the other as they shouted the words the and end in different tones across a spectrum of emotions. Dean then pressed each track into either side of a pair of vinyl records, which spin within the two spaces on turntables that the audience is invited to engage with, thus altering the rhythm of the exchange. He also produced a book containing the script of the dialogue, whose pages are meant be torn out, one at a time, by visitors. The conversation fills the space with a rarefied, broken back-and-forth between a pair whose words will never find a perfect synchrony.

Two concrete sculptures, each one placed on a heart-shaped doormat, occupy the centers of the connected rooms. Marking the precise spots in which each voice was recorded, the sculptures process the hyper-brutality of an image of death and freedom—of Mussolini’s and Petacci’s corpses hanging, on open display—as the physical materialization of an emotional landscape.