A deserted wharf is the setting of Domenico Mangano’s video Dark Messages. Huge cranes are blackly silhouetted against the sky at twilight in the midst of abandoned buildings. The place comes back to life only when night falls. Under cover of darkness, a group of men gather together furtively around a white car for reasons that remain unknown. After a while they walk away and leave in another car. The next scene takes place in the same place during the day, this time with an ambulance and a police car parked by the white car. We are unable to understand the words spoken because of the distance and the blurring of the soundtrack. A man is carried on a stretcher from the car to the ambulance. The video ends here. We do not know what has happened or why. The solution to the riddle is not revealed.
The spectator’s expectations as regards what takes place in the video are all dashed. The isolated, nocturnal setting, the background music and the title, Dark Messages, all suggest a sort of thriller. The necessary ingredients are all present, but not the key actions. We do not know who the men are, what they are doing, why someone is carried away on a stretcher or what will become of him. Our imagination is, however, equipped with all the tools to complete the story on the basis of day-to-day experience. Every day we hear news and are involved in situations that we cannot explain and interpret superficially. It is precisely one of these moments that Mangano presents in Dark Messages, ironically placing a mirror in front of the spectator. We would like to know how the story turns out but, as so often happens in real life, our wishes come to nothing.
Domenico Mangano (Palermo, 1976) has held solo shows at numerous galleries and taken part in group exhibitions at venues such as the PAN – Palazzo delle Arti di Napoli (Naples), the International Studio & Curatorial Program (I.S.C.P.), the Open Studio in New York, Villa Rufolo in Ravello (Italy), the Centro Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in La Spezia and Manifesta 4 in Frankfurt. He lives and works in Palermo.