Michael Costello – Boston, MA
“La commedia e finita,” i.e. “The comedy is finished,” is the closing line of Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci”. The story of the tragic comic protagonist Pagliacci is a traveling clown who murders his wife Nedda and her lover in the final scene when he discovers that he is cuckolded. My current body of work aka La Commedia e Finite” explores our relationships with the icons of clowns, jesters and fools and their unique and mirrored relationships with the individual and society.
We are all fools and we all wear masks and we are all socially guarded. “La Commedia e Finita” explores the persona beneath the mask. Clowns in various states of repose and undress allow us enter the persona off the stage. These clowns whose employ this are based on their ability to make us laugh at life, collapsing into their own private world of despondency and mental fatigue. The 21st century Pierrot becomes a melancholic personality experiencing ill luck but who never loses hope. His makeup gives him a sameness which hides his individual soul and its ups and downs from society. Though all of them share the visual homogeneity of Pierrot, they are individual in gender, race, orientation, age and soul. As Pagliacci is about to commit his crime he cries out “Non! Pagliacci non son!”, “I am not Pagliacci!”, reminding us that we are all more than we appear on the outside. In their solitude and demeanor these clowns become an unsettling dark mirror of the times we exist in.