The Puppet’s Nightmare and Other Bedtime Stories

Still from Il Malatino, 2017, 16 mm film, color, silent, 23 min., looped. © Diego Marcon. Courtesy: the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London

Is it always Diego Marcon’s puppets going bump in the night? The humans and beasts in his deranged melodramas linger on like insomniac reminders that “reality” is only a lifelike facade.

– but that’s the horrifying thing if you’re an insomniac (sing: “I can’t sleep/Cuz my bed’s on fire!”): It always seems like it’s the middle of the night, the same night, which never ends and which you can’t escape, and Kafka was an insomniac, obviously, if that means anything, and anyway, why are you still awake? Maybe somebody told you a story and you can’t get it out of your head?

The puppet father in Diego Marcon’s video The Parents’ Room (2021) won’t go away. He confesses to killing his whole family – wife, son, and daughter – in song, his voice carried by mournful horns and woodwinds as snow falls outside: Disney in a graveyard. Is it Marcon’s morbid, Edward Gorey-esque poems, dedicated to dead dogs and collected in the wicked little book Oh mio cagnetto (Oh, My Puppet Dog, 2020), keeping you awake, or the sculptures of Quattro cani morti (Four Dead Dogs, 2018)? Maybe it’s the nocturnal chatter of the Mum and Dad moles in Dolle (2023)? Or is there something else hidden under the bed …


– This text appears in full in Spike #78 – The Night. You can order your copy in our online shop