In a sculptural-performative work I DRAGGED OUT F.K, Nicola Genovese creates a narration whose costume and mask slowly solidify and sculpt the character. He takes on a figure of a jester, court joker, or fool, historically an entertainer during the medieval and Renaissance eras who was a member of the household of a nobleman or a monarch employed to entertain guests. The performativity of his role is varied: in the morning he defends the humble and justice; at noon, he transforms to only one who can be heard, in the evening - he takes all the spots; and tomorrow, he can be the king. And this power comes simply from the fact that he is the relation and not fixed in the essence, guided by the principle of fluidity. He goes on the public space stage, sets up the scenery, invents theatre, and imposes theatre. He is all the faces on the screen. In his performance, Genovese is at the origin of comedy, tragedy, the circus and the farce, and of public meetings, where he gathers the noises of legitimacy.

The focus of his storytelling is the social construct of toxic masculinity. Here we are confronted with a statue installed at the Schiffbauplatz. The curious object is adorned on the stage of a public space, prepared for the sacrifice, like a bull with a spotless or meticulously varied coat - objectified as a threatening iron claw. With his performative piece, Genovese is preparing the toxic body in front of us - he is embalming it, anointing, poking, dragging it in order to unravel the mummy of toxic masculinity. Yet, through his scholarly narration soon we discover that the subject of his story is a body whose head is poorly held by a too-weak internal skeleton - a rotten construct, but still heavily prevalent in a contemporary society.


I DRAGGED OUT F.K. is a sculpture and a performance at the same time. Zurich-based Italian artist Nicola Genovese (b. 1971) uses the claw-shaped pink iron sculpture at Schiffbauplatz as a prop for scenic narration on the question of gender. In his sculptural performative pieces, Genovese deals with the socially ambivalent role of men. In doing so, he purposefully works with perspective shifts, thus thematising male self-perception, which is currently in crisis.⁣

The intervention at Schiffbauplatz focuses on the idea of the stronger sex as a threatening and harmful construct that still shapes our imagination. During his performance, the artist wears a crown that falls off his head again and again — a parodic interpretation of hierarchical gender roles. In the act of over-staging, gender is not interpreted as a biological fact, but as a normative role.⁣

This staging of songs, sound and theatre is set in the public space, which is still male-oriented today. As if in an exorcism ritual, the artist embalms, anoints, pushes and drags the pink painted claw. The sound produced by the friction between iron and asphalt is reminiscent of the soundscapes in horror films, as already hinted at n the title of the work: Dragged out of his cinematic nightmares into the real urban space, Freddy Krueger (F.K.) is no longer indomitable. Thus, the now vulnerable frame of the (supposedly) male, dragged by the artist, turns out to be a relic of social conditioning.⁣


Nicola Genovese, born in Venice in 1971, lives and works in Zurich. Genovese is a visual artist and musician and works with installations, sculptures, and performance. He graduated in 2017 in Fine Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland. From 2018 he is pursuing a Creative Work Ph.D. at Wits University in Johannesburg (SA). Recently, he exhibited and performed in Pasquart Biel, Südpol Luzern, Fabrik Theater Zurich, Helmhaus Zurich , Cabaret Voltaire Zurich, HDLU Zagreb, Kunstraum Aarau, Shedhalle Frauenfeld, Rietberg Museum Zurich, Zoological Museum Zurich, Schwarzwaldallee Basel, and Sonnenstube Lugano. In 2019 he received the grant for visual art from the city of Zurich. 

Photo: Nicola Genovese