Fabrizio Cotognini, theatre of paper
Text by Gianmarco Montesano

“Was ich besitze, seh ich wie im Weiten,
Und was verschwand, wird mir zu Wirklichkeiten”1.

These words come from the opening dedication of the URFAUST and seem to summarize and enlighten the Theatre of paper (or of papers), realized by Fabrizio Cotognini for the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, in Turin.
The Theatre of paper or Theatre of Spirits recalls, in some ways, the archeological challenges especially the adventures of mental archeology, thanks to what “I lost is real and undying”.

The first time I met Fabrizio Cotognini, through Ida Pisani, I compared the young age of the artist with the expert and patient wisdom of his drawing, and my impression – led by admiration and astonishment –was to be in front of an improbable mental archeologist (improbable because of the current Zeitgeist). At once I remembered the essential meaning that Nietzsche assigned to the spiritual position of the Untimely.
Cotognini talked to me regarding the Faust, his intentions and the piece he prefigured to develop; a piece that could have been foreseen through the aura evoked, even then, by the sketches the artist presented. The discovery was very pleasant not only for the Nietzschean thoughts and for the recovery of that magic archeology of papers and signs, but also because I was becoming – by coincidence and without any intention- an improvised specialist of the first edition of the Faust; I was studying and working on the direction of a play: a Faust I intended to stage some time later. Today, for what I can see, the work of Cotognini, the mental archeologist, is complete. So “what I lost is real and undying” in the possessed reappearance (covered by Spirits rustle) taking place in the Theatre of paper staged in Turin by a young artist, unusually wise and miraculously “untimely”; just like Nietzsche demands the one who explores the alchemy of Thoughts and languages to be. Here comes the Spirit of Metamorphosis: is the young Cotognini similar to the old Doctor Faust? Mental archeologist as Goethe was (while writing the Faust), when he used to inspect old medieval documents and studied –through observation- even the puppet theatre recovered from the sixteenth century old papers of the “Faustus” written by Christopher Marlowe, the sulphurous predecessor of Shakespeare.
The old Doctor Faust wandered uncertain and unsatisfied among the volumes of a frenetic labyrinth build by the mental archeology. Young Cotognini wanders among his drawn papers and evocative objects of other worlds and times, but still able (from what I recall) to fully enjoy life.
Is there a mysterious and fatal Pact hidden in some signs or symbols the artist drew?
No, I do not think so. I believe more in the artist who praises his alchemies.

1 “What I possess I see afar off lying, And what I lost is real and undying”.


Cotognini is artist and everything the artist signs becomes his Pact; but it is not the pact Mephistopheles offered the old Doctor, which was inspired by the tragic and primordial power of Destiny (Goethe called his Faust Eine TragoĢˆdie).
The Theatre of Cotognini’s papers signs a Pact with the Intelligent Heart (which the wise Solomon asked God for), that is the only charm able to completely realize the existence.

G. M. Montesano

(Paris, September 2018)