While I’m Sitting Like a Pasha in Emiliano Maggi’s Studio

29 April 2015

Emiliano Maggi, The Wild Pierrot. Glazed ceramic, 2015, Courtesy Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Rome.


NERO is pleased to share with you this uncanny conversation between Giuseppe Garrera and Emiliano Maggi about Danse Royale, Maggi’s new video installation currently on view until 10 May at Operativa Arte Contemporanea in Rome.


Giuseppe Garrera: And the open space and house that you see in Danse Royale?

Emiliano Maggi: It’s the house of my grandparents. We are in Sabina. Torricella in Sabina, Ornano Basso, San Lorenzo, Pantano Ginestra, Belmonte, Peschiera…

GG: The village.

EM: Yes, all places of apparitions and holiday evenings. When the woods of childhood ended, there was the village, for adventures. I arrived there via two roads, two paths; one on foot, thoughtful and philosophical, a shortcut by the Madonnina, going down the ditch and then up to the old village; the other on the Salaria, by bike, all wind and omens of youth… but the whole area is for me intersected by escape, bewilderment and flight, with my grandparents’ house at the center, like a magical space, destined for spells and tied to descents.

The Wild Pierrot staring at the Danse Royale video, Installation view. Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Rome.


The Wild Pierrot staring at the Danse Royale video, Installation view. Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Rome.


GG: You can sense it there, in fact, in the shadows and darkness.

EM: Well, when my grandparents died it remained abandoned for years, and then, only populated with more absences. I threw parties there with the legend of the insurmountable parties that my parents threw in the seventies, full of people, with the guests all masked and transfigured…

GG: And the clothes in the video?

EM: They are the clothes of the house, what’s left of my parent’s collection, theatre costumes, dispersed about the house for those who arrived to wear and use. The dress my mother is wearing is the one from Gone with the Wind, of Scarlett O’Hara, and the one of my father from a show at the Teatro delle Vittorie, by Pierrot Gigante. For the holidays, there were hundreds… Beautiful pirates, those of cavemen, the exploded…

GG: The exploded?

EM: Yes, it’s the costume for one’s remains after being blown up; after the explosion of a bomb: you have exploded shoes, an exploded shirt, your shirt collar and hair all up in the air…

The Wild Pierrot staring at the Danse Royale video, Installation view. Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Rome.


GG: Fantastic!

EM: Like a dream… There were also beautiful ghosts that roamed about the house, always half in disarray… you couldn’t get away. I remember a mermaid dress, wonderful, with two applicable fake breasts worn by my mother: an apparition, the apparition of a fairy… and then the scarecrows, the scarecrow costumes that I became completely hooked on, for a while I thought only about them… ah, and then the devils, magnificent, and you know why?, because in reality they were poor devil costumes, they were the closest and most familiar to us and most in need of affection, although at times they acted a bit too much like crybabies…

GG: Do you have pictures?

EM: Yes, I especially love the photos of the survivors of the parties; I have one, for example, at the village trough, taken at dawn at the end of a party where you can no longer distinguish the ghosts from the living: there’s always some infiltrator, some deserter, someone slipped away into the snare of the night… But everyone knows, that at parties, between the samba and the cha cha cha, there’s always the danger of crossing over into the afterlife, it happens all the time. That is why we do them, right?

by Giuseppe Garrera
Translated by Abigail Lewis

Family Party