Ca' Pesaro

Ca' Pesaro

Exhibition SALOTTO LONGHENA 2024 | Polifonie italiane

27 February – 17 March 2024


Diego Tonus, born in 1984 in Italy, currently lives and works in The Hague, Netherlands. He will present a series of works titled Fragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter, derived from an assumed conversation between Diego Tonus and a forger (anonymous for practical reasons) revealing controversial thoughts related to contemporary systems that deal with the definition of value. Each artwork is the visual translation of this conversation, manifested through the act of presenting objects, actions and words experienced by the forger within his practice of reproduction of value and ways of transporting it, hacking system of controls and dealing with the definition of individuality. Each artwork is presented in co-authorship with the forger. Tonus approaches the thoughts of the counterfeiter as if they were his intellectual property, questioning the ‘counter’ of counterfeiting and appropriating his ideas. In order to share the appropriated forger’s ideas with the international audience, to activate and perform them, the artist has registered the works as trade secrets at the Benelux Office for Intellectual PropertyFragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter was realized thanks to the support of the Italian Council (3rd Edition), Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture. The series of artworks entered the permanent collection of MAMbo Museum Bologna.

Within his artistic practice, Tonus delves into the exploration of reproduction as a tool for investigation, questioning control systems and power structures. He transforms carefully selected images, objects, and collective experiences, placing them in a new process of thought to reveal underlying structures of codification and normativity. Tonus employs a mix-media approach, grounded in archiving as an obsessive and creative gesture, shaping his unique way of observing events through sculptures, photographs, performance, and film. Either working with film or journalistic writing, voice, performance or sculpture, the research of Diego Tonus analyses the balance between narrative’s modes and the content, showing or revealing how much narrative structure is, above all, an instrument of influencing and manipulation of both the public and the object.

Diego Tonus studied Visual Arts at Università Iuav di Venezia and at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. His extensive exhibition history includes solo shows and presentations at notable venues such as CSAC Parma (2023), Whitechapel Gallery London (2020), STROOM Den Haag (2019), Van Eyck Maastricht (2019), Ellen de Bruijne Projects (2018), ar/ge kunst Bozen (2017), and Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (2013). He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including TENT Rotterdam (2020), Kasteel Oud-Rekem (2019), MAMbo Bologna (2018), Quadriennale Roma (2016), WIELS Brussels (2015), De Appel Amsterdam (2015), CCA Singapore (2014), and Palais de Tokyo Paris (2013). He has been awarded residencies at Van Eyck Maastricht, WIELS Brussels, Fondazione Spinola Banna Poirino, Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa Venice, and Real Presence Belgrade. Notable nominations include the PAC – DGCC (2021), Italian Council (2018), Live Works Centrale Fies (2015), and the Furla Award (2012).  Diego Tonus’s contributions extend to the realm of publications, with titles such as From State To State (Electa, 2023), Never Again (Mousse Publishing, 2020), Fragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter (Roma Publications Amsterdam, 2019), The Presidents’ Hammers (Roma Publications Amsterdam, 2018), I, the Dog of my Master (MER.Paper Kunsthalle 2015), and Five Cases of Intrusion (Archive Books Berlin, 2014).



Diego Tonus and Anonymous, Timepiece

Diego Tonus and Anonymous
Timepiece, 2019
4K Film (Colour/No Sound), documents of the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property

44′ (Loop)
Cinematography by Giulio Squillacciotti
Film made in collaboration with the Hubert Van Eyck Lab, Maastricht
With the support of Leon Martens workshops in Maastricht
Courtesy MAMbo Museum Bologna (Permanent Collection) and the Artist

Timepiece is a silent film documenting the disassembly and hand-mounting of the mechanics of an original Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Cal. 1861 wristwatch, a timepiece that entered space during the first NASA expedition to the moon. It shows the process of taking the watch apart, unveiling its iconic mechanics, and subsequently the replacement of its original barrel and mainspring with a duplicate.
This film contributes to a discussion about the importance of time and the proposed necessity to create memorable events in our present-day economy. On the other hand, the work alludes to Anonymous’s obsession, attempting to realize an exact replica of this watch. According to the forger, authentic parts of luxury watches are smuggled inside fake watches, to subsequently reassemble these abroad to make up complete originals again. The resulting are functioning objects in which ‘copy’ and ‘original parts’ coexist, forming ‘new originals’.  

Diego Tonus and Anonymous

Study for A Moment of Darkness, 2022
Sculpture, Aluminum resin
29x28x26 cm
Courtesy the Artist

Study for A Moment of Darkness is a study of position and material for the eponymous sculpture, part of the series Fragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter. This edition contains a secret: the fingerprints of the hands and face of the forger, impressed by the casting process.

A Moment of Darkness is an aluminum cement sculpture, life-cast and constructed to resemble the forger, who is posing without revealing his identity. Inside this anonymous sculpture of the forger, a metal sheet engraved with the key-code granting access to 1 Bitcoin, is hidden. The artistic value of the sculpture and the hidden value of the cryptocurrency are coexisting within this work. Each is susceptible to the floating valuation of specific markets, trade fluctuations and investment security. Both are held within their set form and underline the notion of belief in relation to the creation of worth.