As we explore the multifaceted layers of the exhibition, we encounter themes such as the Carnival of Venice, unemployment, and the symbolic meaning of Armani Jeans.
The question arises why we focus on this topic when problematic amounts of power and attention are already ascribed to the male body. Surprisingly, the perception of health and masculinity as a personal, cultural, and social phenomenon is scarcely considered in working classes. A reason for this could be that depictions of male-read persons attempt to deny the body's fragility, focusing instead on the authority of the male role.
Consequently, in certain contexts, physical consumption and decay through work are still praised as male values today. However, the increasing use of technology complicates the performance of traditionally male tasks and the resulting identity formation.
This precarious construct leads to Nicola Genovese's idea of the grotesque body. A shattered identity forms into a protest-masculine figure, deliberately deviating from conventional aesthetic standards. With rough, coarse toughness and beer bellies - a rejection of a controlled and cultivated body image - these figures refer
to caricatured clichés of masculinity.
Although this may seem judgmental at first glance, a closer look reveals that Genovese's works are rooted in vulnerability and contradiction. Razor-sharp, steel teeth at the end of the arm-shaped work Gastroscopia (2023) cut into the soft faux leather. With a shape reminiscent of swollen hemorrhoids, the conflict between the materials speaks of an imprisoned pain. A moment that is continued in the work 24/7 Decay: Hommage a Jacques Callot (2023). Here, the faux leather resists its decorated, but chiefly steel box. In this struggle, two bodily figures can be recognized. The spear of the left figure is ready to work its way out of the image
plane, suggesting the intention to penetrate the rear of the figure on the right side of the diptych. If the staff is interpreted as an erect penis, the gesture testifies to something violent, aggressive, and at the same time, the last remnant of controllability that cannot be achieved in the male body.
Genovese's works open an intimate view into this despair. In an era where the relationship between body and product has shifted so far that bodies are produced in a certain form under capitalism, it will require great effort to break these shackles. The role of digital media, especially social networks, as a tool to
promote and shape a neoliberal body culture is crucial. They initiate a change in body representations of male-read persons, where physical appearance becomes a central aspect in creating value and social capital.
With a view to the artist's hometown, we encounter a long tradition of altering or reinventing identities. With masks and costumes, the Venetian Carnival forms a heterotopia, a place of rule-breaking, where fluidity in gender identity and the performative aspects of gender roles are taken to the absurd.
What do Nicola Genovese's works tell us about the relationship between corporeal materiality and gender today, when bodies are semantically charged with gender meanings, but these are increasingly deconstructed by society? What inscriptions do bodies have and how can they be rewritten?