Fragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter

Happy to announce that the project Fragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter by Van Eyck alumnus Diego Tonus, curated by Huib Haye van der Werf, and promoted by Jan Van Eyck Academie, STROOM Den Haag and MAMbo Museum Bologna, is winner of the third edition of Italian Council (2018), a competition ideated by the Directorate General for Contemporary Art and Architecture and Urban Peripheries (DGAAP) – organ of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, to promote Italian contemporary art in the world.


The prize entails the production of a new series of works with the support of the Jan Van Eyck Academie, a publication, a seminar, a solo show at STROOM Den Haag (NL) and the acquisition of the works by MAMbo Museum Bologna (IT).

The coming months Diego Tonus will work at the Van Eyck on the new series Fragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter, which he started during his residency at the Van Eyck in 2017. The new series of 6 artworks will be shown for the first time as a solo project at STROOM Den Haag (The Netherlands) and will be property of the Italian State entering the prestigious Collection of MAMbo Museum Bologna (Italy).

MAMbo Museum Bologna has been selected especially for the dialogue that this series of works will have with the historical collection of the Institution, offering a distinct and layered project as a new acquisition.

The catalogue containing the documentation of the making-of the works and the knowledge produced during the exhibition will be presented in a dedicated volume published by Roma Publications Amsterdam to be launched at the Italian Cultural Institute in Amsterdam. Moreover, Jan Van Eyck Academie – while being the main venue where the artworks will be produced – will present a dedicated seminar (curated by Diego Tonus and Huib Haye van der Werf), together with showing in parallel a selected performance from the series in its exhibition space.

Fragments of a Conversation with a Counterfeiter contributes to a discussion about the transformation and transportation of value, both related to questioning the valorisation of time and space in time of crisis. The project implies a series of six new works derived from the conversation with an actual forger (anonymous for practical reasons) Diego Tonus has encountered and that shared a series of controversial thoughts related to contemporary systems of the definition of values he has experienced within his activity. Each work is a manifestation of this discussion 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 (both in titles and concepts) and aims at working with the intellectual property of the counterfeiter trying to question the ‘counter’ of counterfeiting. The interventions are materialized respectively in different media, according to the nature of the discussion.

** In order to appropriate the forger’s ideas and share them with the international audience, the artist has registered the works as trade secrets at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property. The validity of the trade secret is international at lasts 10 years. 


The Italian Council is set up by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities with the task to promote the production, knowledge and dissemination of contemporary Italian creation in the field of visual arts.

The winning projects were chosen among 60 candidates from all over the world, from the United States to Brazil, from Ethiopia to Japan. The winning entries were by the artists Nico Angiuli, Salvatore Arancio, Stefano Arienti, Rosa Barba, Elisabetta Benassi, Botto & Bruno, Eva and Franco Mattes, Mimmo Paladino, Diego Perrone and Diego Tonus. Among the institutions involved, are prestigious Italian and international institutes, including: La Venaria Reale , the MAXXI Museum , the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the Merz Foundation and the Point Center for Contemporary Art in Cyprus. The winning projects of the third edition, will be financed for a total amount of €950,000 and will involve artists from all over Italy for the creation of works that, designed in relation to the host sites or inspired by reflections on the social and cultural changes of the time, will range from painting to sculpture to video art and photography.


Image: Diego Tonus, A moment of Darkness, 2017


Van Eyck Academie

Hierbij geef ik me op voor de Van Eyck nieuwsbrief