Palermo - News

My Art Guide Palermo Editorial Committee

23 hours ago

This first edition of My Art Guide Palermo has been developed thanks to an incredible editorial committee formed by Ignazio Mortellaro (Artist), Agata Polizzi (Curator), Antonella Purpura (Director of GAM Palermo). The committee has been working to select the best and most interesting art spaces, artists studios, exhibitions, restaurants and bars in town while Raffaella Guidobono has curated a design chapter to explore the coolest shops in Palermo.

Ignazio Mortellaro (Palermo, 1978) lives and works in Palermo. In the words of curator Valentina Bruschi,  from the themes he deals with and the cultural references in his work it is clear that Ignazio Mortellaro’s research method is of the scientific-philosophical type, and that it proceeds from his experience towards the articulation of an idea on the relationship between Man and Nature. Calipers and measuring instruments fill his studio: ancient and modern devices used for the maps the artist traces on paper or etches on glass. Topographical instruments which refer to a complex, yet concrete knowledge – linked to the Earth – are used to create modern maps in iron, of the terrestrial coastlines. Artificial horizons distant from one another, created by joining landscapes constructed using old postcards, take on meaning within the framework of the artwork. Territories seen “backwards” or even upside down: mental visions that represent an interiorized space of freedom, a dialogue between the “self” and the world. During the articulation of Ignazio Mortellaro’s works there is always music playing in the background and, at times, sound even becomes a part of the work itself.

Agata Polizzi (1976), lives and works in Palermo. An Art historian and independent curator, she holds a PhD in History of Architecture and Conservation of Architectural Heritage. Since 2011 she is a journalist. She has taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo, as a contract professor of Cultural Anthropology. She curates exhibitions and research projects for public and private museums, cultural institutions and national and international foundations.

Antonella Purpura is Director of the Gallery of Modern Art “Empedocle Restivo” of Palermo; she has curated numerous exhibitions and important cultural projects, including the new scientific arrangement of the collections of the GAM in Palermo. She is an artistic consultant of the Banco di Sicilia Foundation and a lecturer in the Master in Management of Artistic and Cultural Resources at the IULM in Rome.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Ignazio Mortellaro © Fausto Brigantino Ignazio Mortellaro © Fausto Brigantino
  • Antonella Purpura, Director at GAM Antonella Purpura, Director at GAM
  • Agata Polizzi Agata Polizzi
Venice - Posts

10 to See at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale

2 days ago

Navigating around Venice where you’re here for just a few days can be quite a challenge, therefore My Art Guides team has selected 10 National Pavilions that you can’t miss at the 16th Venice Archictecture Biennale.


Indonesia: The Indonesian pavilion is most likely one of the most simple (and quiet) pavilions of the whole 16th Architecture Biennale, the installation consists in strips of white paper hanging from the ceiling and creating long curves all along the room. The aim of the pavilion is to go back to the basics of architecture, also highlighted in the title: “Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness”.

Argentina: An Instagram favorite, “Horizontal Vertigo”, is an invitation to rethink the Argentinian territory. It features an infinite pampas inside a long mirrored cube which aims at highlighting the relationship between geographical spaces, places and architecture.
Bahrain: Centered around the concept of the “Friday Sermon”, something that brings together people in public, it showcases both video and audio works. The structure which fills the pavilion creates an open square on the inside but, at the same time, being opaque from the outside, it highlights the lack of public spaces in the country.

Albania: The Pavilion’s installation is a sensorial experience which combines element aimed at involving all senses and at guiding the visitor in a journey that shows the true essence of Tirana, the country’s capital.
“Zero Space” is a place where cosmo and chaos are fused.


Belgium:  The “Eurotopie” project confronts the major challenges and imperatives encountered by the European Union as it analyses its key territorial, physical and symbolic presence in Brussels.
Therefore the blue and white building seeks to create a great space for discussion, debate and commitment which appears to be lacking in the European sphere.

Nordic Countries: The Pavilion showcases an exhibition aimed at exploring the relationship between built environment and nature. The question is how can architecture facilitate the creation of a system that supports the co-existance of both. The spatial experience, titled “Another Generosity” created in the pavilion tries to bring higher awareness of the environment we live in,

Great Britain: The British Pavilion, which received the Special Mention by this year’s jury, has been completely emptied and covered in scaffolding in order to create a rooftop place “of both refuge and exile”.
“Island” is curated by Caruso St John and artist Marcus Taylor and it puts together themes of abandonment, reconstruction, sanctuary and Brexit with a programmed series of performances and debates.

Germany: The German pavilion marks the 28th year since the fall of the Berlin Wall and tries to imagine a borderless world. “Unbuilding Walls” presents and investigation on borders and divisions which characterize today’s world.

 Around Town:

Holy See: The Vatican participates for the first time at the Venice Architecture Biennale and has invited ten architects to design and build ten chapels in a wooded area at the island of San Giorgio, just opposite San Marco. “Vatican Chapels” exhibitors include:Norman Foster, Teronobu Fujimori, Carla Juacaba and Eduardo Souto de Moura (awarded this year’s Golden Lion for his project in the Freespace main exhibition).

Golden Lion for Best National Participation: 

Switzerland: “Svizzera 240: House Tour” is the winner of the 16th Golden Lion at the Architecture Biennale “for a compelling architectural installation that is at once enjoyable while tackling the critical issues of scale in domestic space”.


The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale runs until November 25th, 2018.
My Art Guide Venice App can help you to further explore the city.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Clockwise: Indonesia, Argentina, Albania, Bahrain at the Arsenale. Clockwise: Indonesia, Argentina, Albania, Bahrain at the Arsenale.
  • Clockwise: Belgium, Nordic Countries, Germany and Great Britain at the Giardini. Clockwise: Belgium, Nordic Countries, Germany and Great Britain at the Giardini.
  • Holy See (top) and Switzerland. Holy See (top) and Switzerland.
Hong Kong - News

Tai Kwun Opens in Hong Kong – Inaugural Exhibition

2 days ago

Tai Kwun finally opened today in Hong Kong with the inaugural exhibition “100 Faces of Tai Kwun” presenting the stories of 100 people who are related to the Central Police Station compound (CPS compound) in different ways. The long awaited art cluster comprises the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison and proposes a programme focusing on three pillars: heritage, contemporary art and performing arts.
The next exhibition in line will be presented by Spring Workshop and curated by Christina Li: “Dismantling the Scaffold”, opening June 9, will bring together works from local and international artists and collectives, a constellation of artworks which engage with the social and civil structures we collectively inhabit.

Tai Kwun is located at 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; opening hours 11am – 11pm

Claudia Malfitano

  • Tai Kwun Tai Kwun
Venice - News

The Awards of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale

4 days ago

On Saturday May 26th the international jury of the 16th Architecture Biennale has announced the awards at Ca’ Giustinian.

The Golden Lion for Best National Participation is awarded to the Swiss Pavilion, titled “Svizzera 240: House Tour” with the architects Alessandro Bosshard, Li Tavor, Matthew van der Ploeg, Ani Vihervaara.

Great Britain received a special mention forIsland” by Caruso St John Architects and Marcus Taylor.

The Golden Lion for the best participant in the Freespace exhibition is given to  Eduardo Souto de Moura (Souto Moura Arquitectos – Porto, Portugal), while the Silver Lion for a promising young participant to Jan de Vylder, Inge Vinck, Jo Taillieu (architecten de vylder vinck taillieu – Ghent, Belgium).

Two more special mentions are: Andra Matin (andramatin – Jakarta, Indonesia) and Rahul Mehrotra (RMA – Mumbai, India; Boston, USA).

Elena Scarpa

  • Switzerland Switzerland
  • Great Britain Great Britain
Basel - Interviews

Basel from an Artist’s Perspective: an Interview with Hannah Weinberger

2 weeks ago

On the occasion of our paper and digital issue on Art Basel and the art week in Basel and Zurich, we asked Basel-based artist Hannah Weinberger (Filderstadt, Germany, 1988) to tell us about her art and practice and to unveil the projects she has been working for Art Basel.

Hannah Weinberger lives and works in Basel. She completed her Master‘s degree in Fine Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts. Her recent solo exhibitions include “Sounds like news”, Istituto Svizzero di Roma, Rome; “just take it and leave it”, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris, Nuit Blanche, Paris; “You’ll be there when I’ll be near”, Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe (2016); Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2016); “As If I became upside down,right side up”, Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof (2015); KUB Arena, Kunsthaus Bregenz (2014); MIT List Center for Visual Arts, Cambridge, MA (2014); Freedman Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles (2015); “Le Moi Du Toi”, Swiss Institute, New York (2012), amongst others. From 2011 to 2013, she co-ran the project space Elaine at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel, and is currently a residing board member of the Kunsthalle Basel.

Mara Sartore: You frequently work with sound and interaction with the audience in your works and installations. Which one of the two came first?

Hannah Weinberger: It came together. I can’t separate these things. I always think of the place also in a potential relation to an audience where works are being shown and distributed especially when they’re interfering with the acoustics and the already existing atmosphere and sounds

MS: You collaborated with Art Basel on two projects for this edition of the fair. Could you tell us a bit about them?

HW: I’m currently preparing a project called Down There for this years Art Parcours edition. It will be a 10 channel sound installation spread out and distributed inside of a variety of sewers located in Basel’s Old town between Kunstmuseum and Münsterplatz. Each sewer will have its own sound resonate with both field recordings and site-specific compositions. The other special project I initiated is the Hidden Bar located at Art Basel exactly behind the big watch in the main fair building as part of Art Basel venues. Together with friends and artists there will be a running Hidden Bar always open during the hours of the fair and accessible to everyone entering the fair. As a special we will have daily a happy hour (last two hours of the fair) where people can meet artists, experience special projects, see them performing and get inspired. This will be a new and very special place to experience inside of this fair situation.

MS: What does it mean to you to be a woman artist in 2018 (or ever)?

HW: Maybe one could also ask what does it mean to be a male artist today!? The beautiful thing is that there is not really a gap between my life as a woman and my life as an artist.

MS: What will be your future projects after Art Basel?

HW: I’m working on various new works and especially new ways of distributing sound and images.. Exhibitions coming up will be the 57th October Salon in Belgrade entitled THE MARVELLOUS CACOPHONY, the Athens Biennale, also working on a piece for the 20th anniversary of Kunstraum Riehen and a big solo show at Villa Merkel in Esslingen. I think there are few more projects that still have to be confirmed that could be listed bit later.

MS: You live and work in Basel. What is your relationship with the city? What are your favorite places to hang out to chill or find inspiration for your work?

HW: Most of my life I have lived in Basel. I like the size of the town and the fact that it’s easy to leave and return and the way it is geographically situated in Europe. The Art Institute in Basel is currently one of the important places for me to be. As an artist and lecturer at the Institute I appreciate to see and work with all these amazing artists. It is a fulfilling and inspiring experience.

Mara Sartore

  • Hannah Weinberger Hannah Weinberger
  • Hannah Weinberger at Istituto Svizzero, 2012 Hannah Weinberger at Istituto Svizzero, 2012
  • Hannah Weinberger, As if I became upside down, right side up, 2013. Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg 2015 Hannah Weinberger, As if I became upside down, right side up, 2013. Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg 2015
London - Interviews

Block Universe, London’s Performance Art Festival: An Interview with Director Louise O’Kelly

2 weeks ago

On the occasion of the opening of Block Universe, I interviewed curator Louise O’Kelly to learn more about London’s leading international performance art festival. The festival runs for 10 days, starting on the Spring Bank Holiday Weekend – 26 May to 3 June 2018.

Carla Ingrasciotta: How was Block Universe born and what motivated you to start a performance art festival?

Louise O’Kelly: Block Universe was born out of a desire to support artists working with performance and to create a platform to promote this medium. There remain many misconceptions about ‘performance art’ in the public mind, and I was keen to champion what I saw as a new generation of artists working at the cross-section of contemporary art, dance and music. The energy and excitement audiences have for this type of work is palpable, and I was conscious that there wasn’t one dedicated organisation in London committed to supporting or presenting this type of work, so it felt like a necessary addition to London’s cultural landscape.

C.I.: Could you tell us about this fourth edition of Block Universe? Who in terms of visitors are you expecting to see this year at the festival?

L.OK: For our fourth edition, we have expanded to ten days from a week, and are presenting a really exciting selection of UK-based and international artists coming from as far as Australia, the US, Germany and the Netherlands. We are commissioning the majority of the performances, so there is lots of exciting new work to see in both major institutions and unique locations around the city, many of which will be new to audiences. There is also a fantastic programme of special events including talks, workshops, a symposium and artist-led gatherings and discussions curated by my colleague Katharina Worf.

Visitors really cross the spectrum of audiences interested in contemporary art, dance and those interested in cultural events more generally. Usually people never know what to expect, but when they come love what they see as it’s something new.

C.I.: The festival takes place across various locations in London such as The Store X at 180 The Strand, the British Museum, Somerset House, Royal Academy etc. what long-term vision do you have for your performance art festival in London?

L.OK: We have built a strong reputation within the international arts community, which has resulted in fantastic opportunities for the artists we have presented and our goal is to reach even wider London audiences. Positioning the work inside familiar and well know institutions in central London is an important means of engaging people with the work who might not otherwise seek it out. This positioning is part of our longer term ambition that performance comes to be seen and respected as just another medium alongside the traditional forms of painting, sculpture or installation.

Next year will be our fifth year anniversary, so that is a big one for us and we already have some very ambitious projects underway. We are planning a publication to reflect on the 50+ performances and 30 new commissions we will have realised over the last few years. We are also working towards a number of specially commissioned events and interdisciplinary projects across the city and internationally to celebrate this special anniversary edition, which will be important to further strengthen our international ties and elevate the profiles of UK-based artists in a wider global community.

C.I: How did you select the artists involved in this edition?

L.OK: This year’s edition in many ways was a response to the divisiveness that has been more pronounced in world politics over the last year or two, and it felt like a positive action was necessary to think about how we can exist together at this moment in time. Hence the selection of works or the conversations we had with artists around the new commissions they would develop revolved around ideas of community and collectivity, whether utopian or dystopian, and of course conversations around gender relations and sexual harassment were also important in considering the ways that we relate to each other in a broader social context or in our intimate relationships. It felt like a much needed response to the current political situation we are in and all of the artists selected I felt were already dealing with these topics in one way or another.

C.I: Is it a coincidence that most of the performers in this year’s programme are women? How important is feminist topics to you and to what extent is it something that you take into account for the festival?

L.OK: I am proud to present individuals of any gender, but being a woman, of course feminist topics are very important to me. By creating a platform to champion artists working with performance, I do feel it is important to consider how that platform is used and whose voices are heard. There is always a strong representation of female or female identified artists in the programme, but this is simply because they are great artists! I try to be conscious in my programming choices that Block Universe is representing the full spectrum of performance happening, regardless of gender or race.

C.I.: Could you tell us about one performance or project that you particularly like this year and would suggest our readers to attend?

L.OK: I would of course recommend seeing everything, as I am so excited about every single performance that we will be showing over the ten days of the festival. What I might suggest is having a little taster over the bank holiday weekend to whet your appetite.
We will be launching with a free live installation by Maria Hassabi at 180 The Strand, co-commissioned by The Store X. It is an incredible venue in the heart of London that has hosted pop-up projects from the likes of the Serpentine, Hayward Gallery and Lisson Gallery. Happening from 11am-7pm on Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 May, this will be Maria’s first ever presentation in London, and as an artist who has shown in every major museum in the US and as part of Documenta 14 last year, this is certainly not one to miss!

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Louise O’Kelly. Photo: © Louise Greidinger Louise O’Kelly. Photo: © Louise Greidinger
  • Maria Hassabi, STAGING Solo #2 ©Thomas Poravas Maria Hassabi, STAGING Solo #2 ©Thomas Poravas
  • Gery Georgieva, Blushing Valley Gery Georgieva, Blushing Valley
  • Giselle Stanborough, Dates, 2016 Giselle Stanborough, Dates, 2016
Venice - Interviews

Saudi Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia: an Interview with the Architects

3 weeks ago

As Saudi Arabia experiences unprecedented social change, garnering major international media attention, it also makes its first participation in the International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.

Here, curators Jawaher Al-Sudairy and Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman and architects Abdulrahman Gazzaz and Turki Gazzaz, founders of Bricklab, discuss the pavilion, introducing an immersive project that considers the entwined urban and social history of the kingdom, as well as the future potential of architecture and development as the country transforms.

Commissioned by Misk Art Institute, the project, entitled ‘Spaces in Between’, will be unveiled from May 24, and will remain on view until the end of the Biennale, November 25, 2018.

Jawaher Al-Sudairy and Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman: How does your pavilion respond to the theme of this year’s Architecture Biennale?

Abdulrahman Gazzaz and Turki Gazzaz: The theme of this year’s Biennale, which is framed by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara as ‘Freespace,’ explores the complex spatial nature of architecture. By reducing architecture to its primary spatial quality, excess connotations of technology and historicity may be discarded. ‘Freespace’ thus becomes at once built and unbuilt, tangible and intangible, present and absent – a space of dual situations that exist simultaneously. These complexities manifest themselves in what we’ve called ‘Spaces in Between,’ embodying sensorial, spatial and temporal attributes of our daily lives. A series of pods placed within the Arsenale site delimit the boundaries between inside/outside. The resulting enclosures induce certain sentiments of inclusion/exclusion as the visitors explore the variation in scale created by the interior boundaries of the pavilion. Visitors are constantly shifting in between spaces for an investigative exploration of the kingdom’s built environment through a cohesive architectural language.

JAS & S AS: How does it capture the state of contemporary architecture both on a broader, international level but also as a reflection of architecture in Saudi Arabia today?

AG & TG: The pavilion uses the language of materiality and space to communicate the experiential values of contemporary architectural and planning practices in the kingdom. It is important to note that these practices are an extension of the global discourse on architectural thought and production.
Crude oil can be considered that primordial condition out of which most contemporary construction materials are produced. Hence, Saudi Arabia’s oil economy strategically positions the country as a key player in the global building industry in terms of energy supply.
Unfortunately, development across the Kingdom has followed the highway/high-rise trend, completely oblivious to the desert landscape so characteristic of the country. With an abundance of steel, glass, and AC units, the built environment responds poorly to the local landscape and climate.
For this year’s biennale, we are translating this dual condition of economy and landscape through the use of resin (a petrochemical byproduct) and sand (a reference to the landscape) to make the walls of the structure. This material becomes emblematic of a dual condition. Furthermore, it references the country’s urban and architectural development after the oil boom.

JAS & S AS: Does architecture influence culture, or is it shaped by it? And how does this manifest itself particularly in Saudi Arabia?

AG & TG: The relationship between architecture and culture falls directly into the dilemma of causality; which came first: the chicken or the egg?
Human interactions with their physical surroundings elicit certain behaviors depending on the form of the given objects/spaces. In turn, the environment becomes subject to appropriation by the populace. This sets up particular trends for the future development of that community.
In Saudi Arabia, architecture and urbanism have stood as a symbol of the country’s steadfast modernization. Supported by transportation technologies, an unprecedented form of contemporary culture has prevailed across the Kingdom.
What is the main experience you hope visitors will take away with them?
First of all, aside from the architectural experience of the space itself, we hope that the visitors come to a closer understanding of what Saudi Arabia is and what it is shaping itself to be. It is imperative to have visitors identify similarities between Saudi and their own individual backgrounds. This may demonstrate how with all the differences in the world we still experience very similar situations which bring us together as a society regardless of our race or culture.
Second, we also aim to emphasize the relationship between space and community by creating a heightened awareness of the dual nature of space as both inclusive and isolating.

JAS & S AS: How did the city of Jeddah specifically shape your work as architects?

AG & TG:  Jeddah is always in the background. The influence of the city is present in every urban or architectural space we visit, envision or develop. Being haphazardly planned, constantly changing and fragmented, we are in a constant state of investigation of how design can influence (or be influenced by) the chaotic nature of the city.
Also, we’d like to note that Makkah has greatly influenced our work, as well. The Holy Mosque is one of the most vibrant, egalitarian public spaces that continues to inspire our engagement with the role of architecture in the formation of communities.

JAS & S AS: What do you hope to do for architecture in Saudi?

AG & TG: We believe architecture, as a critical discourse that can tackle issues of culture, community and economy, needs to develop further. We hope to utilize architecture to create communities that respect and celebrate our natural environment, respond to its needs and project a more sustainable lifestyle for future generations.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Architects Turki Gazzaz and Abdulrahman Gazzaz, Founders of Bricklab Architects Turki Gazzaz and Abdulrahman Gazzaz, Founders of Bricklab
  • Jawaher Al-Sudairy Jawaher Al-Sudairy
  • Sumayah Al Solaiman Sumayah Al Solaiman
  • Bdr Dunes, 2017, Erth Team Bdr Dunes, 2017, Erth Team
  • Map of Riyadh Map of Riyadh
Basel - News

My Art Guide Basel 2018 Editorial Committee

3 weeks ago

This edition of My Art Guide Basel has been developed thanks to an incredible editorial committee formed by Elena Filipovic (Director of Kunsthalle Basel), Albertine Kopp (Manager of Davidoff Art Initiative), Samuel Leuenberger (Founder and Director of SALTS). The committee has been working to select the best and most interesting art spaces and exhibitions in town while Basel-based artist Hannah Weinberger gives us an insight on the projects she has been working on and that will be featured within Art Basel.

Elena Filipovic has lead Kunsthalle Basel as its director and curator since November 2014.  There she has curated solo exhibitions of emerging artists, including Yngve Holen, Anne Imhof, Andra Ursuta, Anicka Yi and Yan Xing, among others. She previously served as senior curator of WIELS from 2009-2014, where she organized several large scale traveling exhibitions, devoted to Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Mark Leckey, Alina Szapocznikow, and Franz Erhard Walther, among others. She was co-curator of the 5th Berlin Biennial in 2008 with Adam Szymczyk, and has edited or co-edited a number of anthologies on global exhibition histories, including “The Artist as Curator: An Anthology” (Mousse Publications, 2017), “The Biennial Reader: Anthology on Large-Scale Perennial Exhibitions of Contemporary Art” (Hatje Cantz, 2010), and “The Manifesta Decade: Debates on Contemporary Art Exhibitions and Biennials in Post-Wall Europe” (MIT Press, 2005). She is author of “The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp” (MIT Press, 2016) and “David Hammons, Bliz-aard Ball Sale” (Afterall Books, 2017).

Albertine Kopp (Basel, Switzerland) has a passion for contemporary arts which continues to a professional capacity, in the position of Senior Manager of the Davidoff Art Initiative. A multilingual communicator and effective manager, Ms Kopp has worked in art and communication for a decade in various locations including Paris, London, New York and Frankfurt. Now based in Basel with the Swiss Luxury company of Oettinger Davidoff AG, she has been an affective force, building the international art initiative of Davidoff which aims to supports contemporary art and artists of the Caribbean region and create a cultural exchange with the rest of the world.

Independent curator Samuel Leuenberger, has been running the non-for-profit exhibition space SALTS in Birsfelden, near Basel, Switzerland, since 2009, promoting young Swiss and international artists. Since 2016, he is the lead curator of Art Basel’s Parcours sector, a large inner city sculpture and performance project. Since 2012, Leuenberger has worked with the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia on several occasions, including a presentation of the ‘Cahiers D’Artistes’, (artists’ books) in 2013. More recently, he was an associate curator of Salon Suisse 2017, the collateral public program of the Swiss Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. Alongside the work at SALTS and Parcours, he is an advisory curator for the non-for-profit exhibition space ‘Basement Roma’ in Rome, Italy. Together with an international group of like-minded curators they work closely with the directors of Basement Roma (who also run CURA Magazine) to develop the space’s exhibition program. As a committee member of Basel’s cultural department, Kunstkredit Basel – the nation’s oldest City Arts Council – he plays a role in supporting the local and regional art scene by advocating and advising on funding allocation. He regularly teaches at art schools, currently at the ZHDK in Zurich.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Elena Filipovic, Director of Kunsthalle Basel Elena Filipovic, Director of Kunsthalle Basel
  • Albertine Kopp Albertine Kopp
  • Samuel Leuenberger © Fabian Unternährer Samuel Leuenberger © Fabian Unternährer
Venice - Interviews

“Become a Desiarchitect, Like a Good Smoothie”. An Interview with Philippe Starck

3 weeks ago

On the occasion of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018, I interviewed renowned designer Philippe Starck to learn more about his vision and to investigate on the projects he undertook in Venice.

Born in 1949 in Paris, France, Philippe Starck studied at Notre Dame de Sainte Croix in Neuilly and l’Ecole Nissim de Camondo in Paris, France Creation of Ubik (1979). Despite more than 10 000 creations his global fame and his tireless protean inventiveness, which never forgets the essential. Philippe Starck has a mission and a vision: creation, whatever shape it takes, must make life better for the largest number of people possible. Starck considers his duty to share his  ethical and subversive vision of a fairer planet, creating unconventional places and objects whose purpose is to be “good” before being beautiful. His technological miracles are vectors of democratic ecology, focused on action and a respect for the future of both humans and nature. He was the first Frenchman to be invited to the legendary TED conferences. (Text by Jonathan Wingfield)

Mara Sartore: The boundaries between the visual arts, design and architecture are becoming increasingly more blurred. The Venice Architecture Biennale holds true to this, what is your view on this blurring of boundaries?

Phillipe Starck: I never liked small boxes. Christmas is the best day of the year because we open boxes and then put them in the fire. The only way for creativity is freedom and diagonality. But Know-How is different, that’s why it doesn’t look very interesting if architects make design who make art. The game is not musical chairs. The game is to think and create, all at the same time, not adding layers but mixing finally all the elements in order to create something really new, interesting and global. To become a “desiarchitect”. Like a good smoothie.

MS: Could you tell us about your professional philosophy of “democratic design”?

PS: I was never interested in design nor architecture. What only interests me is the effect my creations may have on people who use or go to the places or objects I create. Before anything, design is a political tool. For example, I’ve always believed that when you are visited by a good idea, you need it to share it with the maximum of people. When I started to design, a designer chair was extremely expensive and dedicated to the happy few only. I thought everybody needed a good design chair with a proper quality. It needn’t be an elitism. My concept of democratic design is based on the idea to give quality pieces at accessible prices to the largest number of people. To lower the price while increasing the quality. Now that this battle is won, I can focus on Democratic Ecology and Democratic Architecture like PATH houses.

MS: After Palazzina G, you’ve recently undertaken the restoration of Quadri Restaurant in Venice. You’ve worked together with Venetian artisans to bring  the original splendour of the space into a contemporary context. Could you tell us more about this project?

PS: After Palazzina Grassi and before Quadri, there is also Amo.
Amo is made of charm. It is a place where people can meet, eat, talk, work and love in the greatest Venetian elegance.
Quadri is a love story, a human love story with the Alajmo brothers and a love story for Venice. Quadri is a place that belongs to Venice; it was extraordinary,
except it was little sleepy. So we just kissed it like the Prince Charming, or not so charming in my case, and Quadri woke up. I gave it life again and we gave it back its spirit. My work was to synthesize, to symbolize all the magic, the mystery, the poetry of Venice in Quadri. But the secret of Quadri’s absolute quality is the Venetian artisans: Tessitura Bevilacqua, Aristide Najean and the Barbini brothers to name a few. All the wonderful things at Quadri may come a little from my brain, my heart, my folly but I still needed hands to make it a reality.”

MS: You’ve been living with your family in Burano for a long time now. Why did you choose to live here? In what way does Venice inspire your work?

PS: Living in Burano is like living in an ideal society. The Buranelian are great people, everyone has known each other for so long. They are cousins, fathers, grandfathers, husbands, associates and they live together perfectly which seems impossible in a modern society. But what interests me the most in the Venice Laguna is the understanding of this mud. It is the same mud – the primal mud – that existed before the appearance of life and which is for me the starting point of all creativity.

MS: Could you let us in on your top 5 places in Venice?

Magic appears by itself when you reveal the true spirit of the place. Everything here is a mental game, with its own magical little music. Hidden fertile surprises come to life everywhere; on the walls with the fabric, in the lights with the surrealistic chandeliers and in the chimeric taxidermy collection that inhabits the place; the animals came here and wings grew on their backs, becoming fantasy creatures like the mythical winged Lion of Venice. Quadri is a wonderland.

AMO is an island of Venetian mystery in the middle of world’s treasures. Each piece of furniture or interior design is a concentrate of the Venetian spirit, sofas inspired by gondolas, glass works directly stemming from the genius of Murano, mural paintings representing fantasies from the Venice carnival. All becomes the décor of a Venetian theatre.

Immerse yourself in the essence of Murano’s history, where the secrets of making glass have been preserved for centuries. Aristide Najean is a nice devil, surrounded by the fire of his furnaces that never fall asleep. He transforms the humble sand into the most incredible phantasmagoria that the glass and the hand can imagine. The furnace of Aristide is a journey into the talent and history of humanity.

Bevilacqua stands for Venetian fabrics, extraordinary fabrics. If you had one thing to see in Venice, it would be the Bevilacqua factory. You will discover very old looms, some may date from the Renaissance, some have so many strands that they don’t event exist anymore.
It is extraordinary to see this know-how, this precision, this beauty. Here again we’re in poetry. For Quadri I wanted to twist the fabric to make something that goes beyond the idea of quality and tradition and start to get into humor, magic, traps or mental games.

What would Venice be without mirrors? Mirrors are the way to look at reality differently, to look at the other angle of reality. Mirrors are absolutely magical. We work with a wonderful company called Barbini. Here again, it is strictly, strictly, strictly ancestral methods with the talent.

Mara Sartore

  • Philippe Starck © James Bort Philippe Starck © James Bort
  • Philippe Starck, Massimiliano Alajmo, Raffaele Alajmo, Marino Folin Philippe Starck, Massimiliano Alajmo, Raffaele Alajmo, Marino Folin
  • Quadri, San Marco, Venice Quadri, San Marco, Venice
  • Aristide Najean Aristide Najean
Basel - News

Find out the Artists Presented in Unlimited – Art Basel 2018

3 weeks ago

This year’s edition of Unlimited will consist of 71 large-scale projects, presented by galleries participating in the fair. Curated for the seventh consecutive year by Gianni Jetzer, Curator-at-Large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture  Garden in Washington D.C., the sector will feature a wide range of presentations, from seminal pieces from the past to work created especially for Art Basel.

Renowned as well as emerging artists will participate, including: Matthew Barney, Yto Barrada, Daniel Buren, Horia Damian, Camille Henrot, Jenny Holzer, Mark Leckey, Lee Ufan, Inge Mahn, Lygia Pape, Jon Rafman, Michael Rakowitz, Nedko Solakov, Martine Syms, Barthélémy Toguo and Yu Hong.

Find out here the full list of selected artists.

Art Basel
June 14-17, 2018
Preview (by invitation): Tuesday, June 12, 2018 and Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Public opening dates and hours:
Thursday, June 14, 2018 – Sunday, June 17, 2018: 11am-7pm

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Cerith Wyn Evans, Neon Forms (after Noh I), 2015 Courtesy of the artist and the gallery Cerith Wyn Evans, Neon Forms (after Noh I), 2015 Courtesy of the artist and the gallery