Palazzo Ducale Reloaded




«Palazzo Ducale Reloaded – The Stories of the Absent» was an international and interdisciplinary semester project with the intent to elaborate and raise the unknown and hidden stories of the Palazzo Ducale.

This famous architectural building in the heart of the Italian city Mantova is currently a large converted museum complex. The project aimed to stage and to reload the Palazzo Ducale by means of scenography and to detect and investigate the spatial, narrative and dramaturgical potentials of the Palazzo.

«Journey to the Beyond - Immortal Glory»

The event composition by Despina Simeonidou is based on the Opera L‘Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi. The Premiere of the authentic Opera took place on 24 February 1607 in the Palazzo Ducale of Mantova. The Performance take place during the annual carnival in Mantua and on occasion of the birthday of Francesco IV. Gonzaga. Both, the Opera and the event consist of one Prologue and five Acts. Despina Simeonidou extended the event and added one Pre-Prologue and one Epilogue.

The visitor is invited to take a tour through the Palazzo Ducale, enjoying the over 300 years old palace with its frescoes and a walk-in Orpheus Event with life Performances and Orchestra. The Event is about Orpheus, and tells the story of his descent to Hades and his fruitless attempt to bring his dead bride Eurydice back to the living world. It is about love, hope and loss.

This staging shall show that our society deals with the same problems and even more than those. What is the hell of the 21st century? What is the hell by oneself? This is the question with which the visitor is confronted after visiting the event. Before the visitors leave the event, they are confronted with a projected quote of Aristoteles: 

The activity is pleasant in the present, the hope in the future, and the memory in the past.

«Il palazzo parlante – Scambio di messaggi»

The exhibition concept by Kathrin Mast is based on the correspondence of Barbara Gonzaga, born as marchioness of Mantua and first duchess of Württemberg. The diverse stories of over 300 letters form the fundament for content and stereogram of the individual interventions. Based on the content the visitor will get an impression, how the letter was utilized as a communication medium in the late middle age. Moreover, how important writing was at that time and how the exchange of messages was in comparison with our time. The international communication over the Alps provides new insights from dynastic networks and relations to personal emotions.

The visitor of the exhibition will first receive a written letter. This letter will guide him through the exhibition and will provide various information in combination with the font projections. Data and facts related content will be conveyed to the visitor in addition to fictive content. The increase in different information will mislead the visitor little by little thereby making it difficult to separate truth from fiction. During the exhibition, the visitor will go through different roles, such as the envoy. He will be asked to collect information, solve riddles and maintain them on his own analog media (letter).

The analog medium suggests a whole new exhibition experience for the visitor, thereby enabling him to discover the themes and content in an individual manner. A simple paper will serve as a personal device. The analog medium will further serve as a projection surface for text, audio, pictures and riddles and the translation of the different language. By means of the changing projections, digital interplays are generated different stories which can be actively shaped by the visitor.

Collaboration Project between Palazzo Ducale Mantova, Politecnico di Milano, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies and FHNW, Academy of Arts and Design Basel, Institute of Interior Design and Scenography & Masterstudio | Studio Scenography & Exhibition Design

Head of project: Prof. Uwe R. Brückner, Basel

Mentor: Prof. Marco Borsotti, Mantova

Patronage: Peter Assmann, Direktor Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Assistant: Martina Ehleiter, Basel