Rome - Interviews

“By or Of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy”: an Interview with Sergio Casoli and Mattia De Luca

1 week ago

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start with the exhibition currently on at the gallery. When and how did you get into Marcel Duchamp’s oeuvre? Which of the artist’s work are you most drawn to?

Sergio Casoli and Mattia De Luca: The exhibition “By or Of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy” is an ambitious project that aims to offer visitors the opportunity to approach the work of the artist who drastically changed the history of art and its language, radically altering our understanding of what constitutes an object of art. The scope of the revolution made by Marcel Duchamp is evident in his well-known “ready mades” – of which we have the privilege of showing the only one that has not had subsequent re-editions – but also in the numerous writings, notes, documents, catalogues, engravings and etchings that are part of this exhibit and that witness the significance of his ‘non-art’ activity as well. More than 100 works, many from his early years, show the complexity of the artist’s creative process, of the mental dimension to which he aspired to draw at the detriment of pure aesthetic pleasure, and demonstrate how those activities reflect the artist’s questioning of originality and reproduction.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Your gallery first opened in Milan, then you moved to Filicudi and recently arrived in Rome to re-open a new gallery. Why did you move to this city?

Sergio Casoli: I decided to move in Filicudi after leaving Milan because I was tired of the city comforts and the ‘ethical responsibility’ of the gallerist. The world and art were changing. I went to Filicudi because, to me, it represented the Italy of my childhood: a simpler and rural Italy, with little concrete around. Later I chose Rome, where I currently live. Think of the extraordinary beauty of this city, of its history, culture, architecture, streets and you will understand why a person chooses to live here.

Mattia De Luca: Although I have traveled and lived abroad, Rome is my hometown. My family, my roots are here. I felt my path in the art world had to start in this city.

Carla Ingrasciotta: You reopened a gallery after a 17-year break. How have things changed for you Sergio and what is working with Sergio like, for you Mattia?

Sergio Casoli: Today everything has changed: the system, the culture, the meaning of art. Re-opening after 17 years means to get back into the game and understand the differences and learn how to live in the contemporaneity.

Mattia De Luca: Working with Sergio means a lot of things. It means having a teacher, a partner, a friend, a person who shares with me a great and genuine passion for art. It is an extremely rewarding experience to watch him setting up a show, deal with a collector or talk to an artist. He makes everything looks very easy and enjoyable.

Carla Ingrasciotta: How did you meet each other and what is the strength of your collaboration?

Mattia De Luca: We met thanks to a common friend who strongly believed in our meeting. Sergio and I are very different people, and belong to different generations. It is precisely our differences, combined with our common love for art, that make our collaboration a successful one. We both see the gallery not only as a commercial activity but as a place where we can meet people, exchange opinions and plan future projects. We also prefer to welcome the collectors rather than chasing them..

Carla Ingrasciotta: How do you see your gallery positioned in regards to art and the market in Rome? Furthermore how do you see yourselves positioned in comparison to stronger players in the Italian art scene such as Torino?

Sergio Casoli and Mattia De Luca: We hope to contribute to strengthening the artistic panorama of the city. We believe Rome has an enormous potential that makes it competitive on both a national and international level. It’s a very popular destination for many international collectors, curators and museum directors. Also, there are many extremely active scenes, both private and public, and the cultural offerings are of a high standard. Perhaps we should work on a better collaboration between professionals in the sector and on a new and more effective communication strategy.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Could you share your thoughts on the contemporary art market along with its ecosystem and strategies? Do you apply for art fairs?

Sergio Casoli and Mattia De Luca: The art market, by its very nature, is dynamic and sensitive to changes. We believe that the current phase is extremely favourable to the great masters of Italian art, with excellent opportunities for the Arte Povera artists, as shown by the numerous exhibitions dedicated to them in prestigious international galleries and also by the results of the latest international auctions. It is undeniable that the role of auction houses is crucial – in the good and the bad – for the entire course of the market and of the contemporary art system, but it would not exist without the primary market and the hard work of the galleries.
We are still not sure about participation in art fairs, as we really like the idea of maintaining the “old” gallery approach. We could probably consider an Italian art fair in the future.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Any upcoming projects to look forward to?

Sergio Casoli and Mattia De Luca: An important project opening in spring 2019 of which we can’t provide details at the moment, but can guarantee will be a not-to-be-missed event.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Mattia De Luca and Sergio Casoli Mattia De Luca and Sergio Casoli
  • Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp, "By or Of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy", Exhibition view, Galleria Casoli De Luca, 2018
  • Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp, "By or Of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy", Exhibition view, Galleria Casoli De Luca, 2018
  • Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp, "By or Of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy", Exhibition view, Galleria Casoli De Luca, 2018
  • Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp, "By or Of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy", Exhibition view, Galleria Casoli De Luca, 2018
Shanghai - Interviews

Reporting from Shanghai: An Interview with Suki Seokyeong Kang

2 weeks ago

Suki Seokyeong Kang is a Korean artist who lives and works in Seoul. Kang works in various media including installation and video in an expansive that draws from painting. She creates environment involving performance, sound, in an immersive and harmonious visual language that references Korean traditional arts.

Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva: Please could you kindly introduce the works that you are presenting at the biennale and how they relate to your previous works. And what about the “activation” process in the performative parts of your work? How does the relationship you develop with Korean history plays out when outside the country, when in China?

Suki Seokyeong Kang: The title, “Black Mat Oriole”, is a compound of the words “Black Mat” and “Oriole”. In this context, the oriole is derived from Chunaengmu, which is a traditional solo dance from the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. It is a slow dance performed on a square mat called hwamunseok. The Black Mat in my work represents an individual’s territory and the movements that take place inside it. Through this interpretation, I sought to gradually show the invisible domains and stance of the individual. In translating the slow court dance into the gestures of an individual, I wanted to narrate the time employed in such slow movements and convey how an individual’s voice and gestures could designate and extend certain domains. That is, I portray the oriole’s movements on the black mat in order to provide a visible voice to the invisible domains and stance of the individual. Installed as dark space in Shanghai Biennial, Black Mat connotes the minimal space on which an individual can stand.

In terms of formal language, this space is the square through which I perceive painting, and this (in)visible space connects with the process of my search for gravity and balance. So through the ‘Activation’ with local dancers from Shanghai, I wish to share the structural grid and the construction methods of the modules that emerge in my process of perceiving the painting as a spatial concept. That spatial concept has been expanded in the form of movements that I call activation: through colors, gravity, texture, and body.

Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva: How do you relate to Shanghai? Do you have an favourite aspects about this experience?

Suki Seokyeong Kang: Shanghai is a great to city to move fast in cultural aspect. Working with the team from the Power Station of Art and Shanghai Biennial was a wonderful experience. All the staff in the team was really energetic and focused and it what will remain from my first good experience in Shanghai. I wish I can have more time to spend in this city, I will be looking forward to visiting again later.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Suki Seokyeong Kang Suki Seokyeong Kang
  • Black Mat Oriole 8 min 46 sec 3 channel video with sound 2016-2017 Black Mat Oriole 8 min 46 sec 3 channel video with sound 2016-2017
  • Black Mat Oriole 8 min 46 sec 3 channel video with sound 2016-2017 Black Mat Oriole 8 min 46 sec 3 channel video with sound 2016-2017
Miami - Interviews

“To Insist, to Insist, to Insist…”: Abraham Cruzvillegas Unveils His Project for Art Basel

2 weeks ago

Carla Ingrasciotta: The first rendition of “Autoconstrucción” happened in Mexico City at Pista, an abandoned dance space in Colonia Roma. In what way “To Insist, to Insist, to Insist…” at Art Basel differs from the first version?

Abraham Cruzvillegas: During the first presentation of this project Barbara Foulkes and Andrés García Nestitla performed by my side. Barbara started to interact with the piece slowly, and then the pace started escalating to a real sort of combat with the piece, on that occasion I also participated towards the end in synchronicity with Bárbara and we together destroyed or dismembered the piece. Andrés García was playing live and reacting to our movements and the ambiance of the performance at the same time.
For the presentation at The Kitchen I decided to stay out of the main action and let Bárbara perform on her own. I think her knowledge of movement and the way she can control her body while hanging is much more interesting than me fighting against the piece. She has more grace!, that of a trained dancer.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Could you tell us about the creative process behind this piece?

Abraham Cruzvillegas: Working with other people has always been a central part of my artistic research, I keep meeting wonderful artists that express themselves in completely different media than me. I find it enriching to be able to understand creativity through the body of a dancer or the sensibility of a musician, this is why I’m constantly searching to create with others. Also, as a human being, member of a gregarious society, I believe there is nothing we can do on our own and we must always depend on others for our success, our expression and in this case for art making. It is for me just part of being human.
Of course the ideas of Autoconstrucción that I have been developing throughout my practice come into play but they entail the same collaboration.

Carla Ingrasciotta: What is Autoconstrucción? Could you explain this innate notion of your practice to our readers?

Abraham Cruzvillegas: Autoconstrucción is a survival mode of living and building that one can encounter in marginal human communities such as slums, favelas or shanti towns. It is the human capacity to create one’s living space with the available materials, recycling, re-using and repurposing resources in order to develop the place we live in. It has an important impact on one’s identity and it informs the character and sense of belonging of its dwellers. I believe humans are in a constant state of Autoconstrucción, taking and repurposing the information, experiences and knowledge we live through to create our particular identity. I am in a permanent Autoconstrucción mode, always learning from others.

Carla Ingrasciotta: You grew up in Colonia Ajusco, a neighborhood in Mexico City. What is your relationship to the city? Does the city itself inspire your work?

Abraham Cruzvillegas: I now live in Paris with my family and I am a professor at the École des beaux arts de Paris, but I visit Mexico often as well and I lived in many different neighborhoods of Mexico City. However, the relationship with the part of the city I grew up in has impacted my work in every way, creating the basis of the Autoconstrucción concepts that I have developed over the years.
When I work and travel abroad, I use the same modus operandi, I take the materials that a specific place offers, never discarding anything nor choosing what repurposed materials I will use. I pickup everything that I find in a certain territory as I believe it is a witness of the particular identity of each place. So in this sense I could say that the city inspires my work like this, but it is not a particular city, it is every city with its adjacent identity.

Carla Ingrasciotta: What about your perspective on the city’s art scene? How has it changed since the beginning of your artistic career?

Abraham Cruzvillegas: I recently did a project at the MUCA UNAM a university museum from the National Autonomous University in Mexico City in which I made an open call to over 50 artists, writers, performers, sportsmen, musicians, academicians, professors, skaters…. To participate and create a space where there would always be something happening. A place where art, knowledge, life and community could mix and learn from each other, open to the participation of the public. The results were very moving and incredible, I am sure new connections and projects emerged from this experience. I think this was a taste of the energy that one can experience in the city and the effervescence that young generations will bring to the scene.
I think that when we started as young artists there were obviously fewer official places in which we could show, create and experiment in art, however the energy was such that artist run spaces and alternative modes of exhibiting, learning and sharing were thriving in different places of the City. I am sure that there are such places today for the younger generations and that we should remain in touch to what they are exploring now.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Any upcoming projects to look forward to?

Abraham Cruzvillegas: I am preparing a solo exhibition in my Mexican gallery kurimanzutto that will open early February. I am working with different ideas that will be condensed in a sculptural installation that will include specific botanical studies of local flora, a particularly beautiful artisanal technique from the state of Michoacán called Maque and the contrast between artisanal practices, recycling of materials and cheap design.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Abraham Cruzvillegas © Abigail Enzaldo Abraham Cruzvillegas © Abigail Enzaldo
  • Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist, April 5-7, 2018. Performers: Bárbara Foulkes and Andrés García Nestitla (not pictured). Courtesy of The Kitchen, New York City. © Paula Court. Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist, April 5-7, 2018. Performers: Bárbara Foulkes and Andrés García Nestitla (not pictured). Courtesy of The Kitchen, New York City. © Paula Court.
  • Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist, April 5-7, 2018. Performers: Bárbara Foulkes and Andrés García Nestitla (not pictured). Courtesy of The Kitchen, New York City. © Paula Court. Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist, April 5-7, 2018. Performers: Bárbara Foulkes and Andrés García Nestitla (not pictured). Courtesy of The Kitchen, New York City. © Paula Court.
Shanghai - Interviews

Reporting from Shanghai Biennale: an Interview with Huang Jing Yuan

3 weeks ago

For the occasion of her participation to the 2018 Shanghai Biennale, the Chinese artist Huang Jing Yuan talked to our local editor in Shanghai Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva.

Huang Jing Yuan: The conversation started around December 2017, when Cuauhtémoc Medina visited my studio. My paintings are physically present, so they didn’t really need much explanation.

Most of the time we exchanged ideas on my writing instead, the artist statements I wrote, my essays, and my writing collective. The part of my writings that are available in English are limited, but even that part I didn’t have the chance to discuss with many people. I was very happy to find a reader such as him.

After the formal invitation to the biennale, as well as to the Reader (we are the only Chinese contributors to the Reader as far as I know), we didn’t talk much about the details, until we met again this September in Shanghai after I was given a space.

He gave me some sense of the area that I was in. I didn’t know the architecture design, but by accident, we shared a lot in terms of approaches and concerns. It is an absolute joy to find that it is a framework I can intervene in. I think Medina trusted me on my choices, and knew when to give me more information, and when to help me understand priorities.

I like the kind of curators who care about writing, and I like to exchange writings with him. Reading his wall text, the curatorial introduction to my section, was a revealing and inspiring experience for me. What I have is a practice, and I like that I am perceived as such. I also think I was very lucky to have Hantao, the chief coordinator facilitating his exploration of the whole mechanism in China.

Maybe because I speak Chinese, the executional aspect of the presentation was mostly dealt independently and directly with the construction team PSA provided. They were equally important in helping me carrying out my vision.

The Right to Write by Huang Jing Yuan

We write, privately, with or without readers; we also write publicly, as quick as updating our social media, as mechanical as signing a credit card. In this project, I use the verb “write” in its broadest sense, taking advantage of the Chinese societal tradition where calligraphy is a form of painting and a device for expression in both literary circles and street art.

Maybe to some viewers’ disappointment, I have no provocative materials that openly call for “the right to write” to present here; indeed, the languages I am working with, in most cases, are seemingly submissive in their form and largely deprived of their political agendas. It is a temporary coming-together of works that suggests what could have been different, through materials from the world where “the right to write” is gradually being taken away.

Yes, it is an artistic (historical) hypothesis. To conduct it, I have invited sixteen participants and worked with them to exhibit (and in some cases to create) their materials together with my own paintings. This working method inevitably brought me face to face with the usual dichotomies: the textual and the visual, the practical and the conceptual, the documentary and the lyrical, art and non-art, and the prestigious and the disadvantaged, but my intention was to focus on the betrayal of category, the contingency of binaries, the accident in the prescribed, and to a certain degree, the compulsion within each of us to write. If writing is the mother of the comatose archive, I wonder if exhibiting could be the rehearsal hall for a brief spell of somnambulation.

Here we are, through the platform of a biennale, accompanied by the friendliness of physical everyday materials, unfolding an open and intimate understanding of the different available and unavailable tools for each individual at certain times. The project tries to synchronize different kinds of isolation, to create a narrative for segregated worlds to mirror each other (no, they don’t explain each other, nor can they save each other). It invites viewers to ask: What is the ordinary Chinese person’s experience and expression as they negotiate the vortex of changes and ubiquitous inequality? what do these instances of picturing the world say about the time we are in? How may we empower ourselves when faced with the past and the reality in front of us, and the world yet to come?  With these questions in mind, this complex hopefully communicates my own ways of picturing the world.


My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Huang Jing Yuan, Courtesy of the artist Huang Jing Yuan, Courtesy of the artist
  • © Huang Jing Yuan, Courtesy of the artist © Huang Jing Yuan, Courtesy of the artist
Venice - Interviews

Contemporary Dialogues with Tintoretto: an Interview with Alessandro Possati, Founder and Director of Zuecca Projects

1 month ago

Mara Sartore: The exhibition takes part in the celebrations for the 500th anniversary since the birth of Jacapo Tintoretto. How did the idea come about to create a dialogue between the 16th century Venetian master and contemporary artists?

Alessandro Possati: It came about through a collaboration with the American Foundation for the Safeguarding of Venice’s Historical Heritage, SAVE VENICE. The Director Frederick Ilchman (also Chair of Art of Europe at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) put forward the idea of contextualising Tintoretto’s work within an international contemporary art context.

Mara Sartore: How did the collaboration with the curator Ludovico Pratesi come about? How did you organise this project together?

Alessandro Possati: Departing from a talk which had been previously organised with the curator Ludovico Pratesi and Gabriella Belli, the director of MUVE on the topic of how light is used in the painting of the contemporary Italian artist, Luigi Carboni, to which it is central to his work. Together with the Curator we made in-depth research into the life and career of Tintoretto, selecting a vast body of work from which to draw upon, we decided therefore to focus on one of the most characteristic aspects of his work: portraiture. In fact, Tintoretto, despite receiving increasingly prestigious commissions during his career, has always been considered an unparalleled master in the realisation of portraits that, despite the fame of his established “Atelier”, always and exclusively by himself.

Mara Sartore: How does the itinerary and the dialogue develop between the modern and the contemporary in the exhibitions at Palazzo Ducale and Galleria Franchetti?

Alessandro Possati: The itinerary unfolds as an educational pathway: starting with the historic aspect of the retrospective with the major works by Tintoretto, paying particular attention to the portraits gallery at Palazzo Ducale (portraiture is the focus for our dialogue with the contemporary works) and, at the end of the exhibition we continue towards the Quarantia Civil Vecchia where the two discs of Emilio Vedova are placed, the first contemporary artist included in the exhibition, at the end of the pathway in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, one is confronted by the greatness of Il Paradiso. The itinerary then continues at Galleria Giorgio Franchetti in Ca ‘D’oro where the 12 meticulously selected contemporary portraits interact with the Portrait of the Procurator Nicolò Priuli di Tintoretto, offering an overview of the contemporary pictorial panorama.

Mara Sartore: The project involves a network that unites independent spaces like yours, Zuecca Projects, private collections like AmC Collezione Coppola, Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection, and galleries such as Gagosian, Massimo De Carlo and Victoria Miro Gallery, and that together with Venetian museum institutions have contributed to the concrete realisation of this exhibition. Could you tell us something about this network?

Alessandro Possati: Since its conception, Zuecca Projects main objective has been to create links between local institutions and international cultural realities. This mission finds its perfect implementation in this project. The network has developed thanks to the organisation’s 10 year experience and the bonds which have formed over time.

Mara Sartore: How do the artists involved in the exhibition express how they’ve been influenced by the Venetian master in their work? Is there any particular work you are attached to?

Alessandro Possati: Each of the selected artists draws on different aspects of portraiture. I am particularly attached to the work of Michael Borremans, The Measure II, for the rarity of his artistic production; reason why we are honoured to be able to present it in the exhibition. In addition, I would also like to mention Glenn Brown’s opera Nostalgia because the artist, throughout his career, has profoundly and explicitly drawn upon the imaginary of classical art, with surprising contemporary reinterpretations.

Mara Sartore

  • Installation view Installation view "Contemporary Dialogues with Tintoretto". Courtesy of Zuecca Projects. Photography by Marco Dabbicco.
  • Installation view Installation view "Contemporary Dialogues with Tintoretto". Courtesy of Zuecca Projects. Photography by Marco Dabbicco.
  • Installation view Installation view "Contemporary Dialogues with Tintoretto". Courtesy of Zuecca Projects. Photography by Marco Dabbicco.
Germany - Interviews

German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019: an Interview with Curator Franciska Zólyom

1 month ago

We interviewed Franciska Zólyom, curator of the German Pavilion 2019, following the press conference in which the artist to represent Germany at the upcoming Venice Biennale was announced.  The curator has provided us with first hand insight into the project she’s working on with artist Natascha Süder Happelmann.

Mara Sartore: How do you feel about being chosen to curate the German Pavilion?

Franciska Zólyom: It is an exciting project indeed. I could feel this soon after I was informed that I was selected as curator of the German Pavillon. It was an extremely inspiring process to figure out what kind of artistic realisation I’d like to propose for the audience of the Venice Biennial. As a visitor I have attended the biennial several times and I like the ambience of the Giardini as well as all the discoveries in the pavilions spread throughout the city of Venice.

Mara Sartore: During the recent press conference the artist was announced by Helene Duldung, the artist’s own spokeswoman who said: ‘The artist chosen for the presentation at the German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia 2019 is …. Natascha Süder Happelmann.’ A new name in the art world actually, no one had heard of the artist and she herself didn’t say a word, her head was hidden under a stone made of papier-maché. That was an intentional misspelling of Natascha Sadr Haghighian. Tell us a bit about this issue…

Franciska Zólyom: Names are powerful. They not only designate beings and things they also constitute, determine and identify them. By doing so they also distinguish, separate them from each other and ascribe meaning and value to them. In art there are again and again „names“ that you supposedly shouldn’t miss. However in my understanding art is a continuous search for forms of expression for ways to depict and to imagine the world in ways we don’t know yet. In this sense it is important to look for alliances, connections and affinities between forms of being. To overcome demarcations and the effects of discrimination that they entail.

Mara Sartore: Could you tell us something about the way yourself and the artist will respond to theme of this year’s biennale, “May You Live in Interesting Times“?

Franciska Zólyom: We didn’t know about Ralph Rugoff’s concept when we started to conceptualise the project. His statement is inspiring in that it asks for the imaginative potential and critical agency of art. I think that visitors will gain awareness of the specific context in which the main exhibition is embedded.

Mara Sartore: What’s it like working with Natascha Süder Happelmann like? (and with Helene Duldung)…

Franciska Zólyom: It is an extraordinarily rich and joyful experience to work with Natascha. Rich both in intellectual and interpersonal respect. Step by step we built a project team and the more complete and diverse it grew the more privileged I feel to work within this team. It is a huge amount of work that we face. Facing it together definitely helps!

Mara Sartore: From your experience of the Venice Biennale, which German Pavilion has had the greatest impact on you? Did you enjoy Anne Imhof’s Golden Lion-winning presentation at the 2017 biennale, curated by Susanne Pfeffer?

Franciska Zólyom: Last year’s Faust was a powerful project and it had a strong effect on me to step on the glass floor to attend the performance.

Mara Sartore: On another note, which pavilion you are looking forward to see at this upcoming biennale?

Franciska Zólyom: I couldn’t point out one individual presentation, but I sure watch from time to time the list of contributions that are being published successively. What I like about Giardini is the way you move from one pavilion to the next, carrying impressions and thoughts from one place to the other. It can easily happen that you talk or think about the Brazilian presentation while standing in the South Korean pavilion.

Mara Sartore

  • Franciska Zólyom © Stefan Fischer Franciska Zólyom © Stefan Fischer
  • German Pavilion Press Conference, 25 October 2018 © Stefan Fischer German Pavilion Press Conference, 25 October 2018 © Stefan Fischer
  • German Pavilion Press Conference, 25 October 2018 © Stefan Fischer German Pavilion Press Conference, 25 October 2018 © Stefan Fischer
Minneapolis - Interviews

Walker Art Center, Two Years on and his Thoughts on the Next Italian Pavilion: 
an Interview with Vincenzo de Bellis

1 month ago

For the occasion of the opening of the new Walker Art Center’s exhibition, I’ve interviewed Vincenzo de Bellis who is Curator of Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis since 2016, and has been recently appointed Associate Director of Programs.

The exhibition “Illusion Brought Me Here” is Mario García Torres’s first US survey and highlights the artist as both researcher and storyteller, exploring the impulses that produce artistic thought. In this interview de Bellis also shared his thoughts on the artists selected to represent Italy at the upcoming Venice Biennale.

Editorial note: The interview took place mid October, before the recent announcement of Mary Ceruti as New Executive Director of the Walker Art Center from end of January 2019.


Mara Sartore: You were recently appointed Associate Director of Programs at the Walker Art Center, what does this new task entail and how have these first two years at the Art Center played out?

Vincenzo de Bellis: A whole lot more of hassle! Jokes aside, I arrived at a time of profound change for the United States, just three months before Trump was elected. The Museum was going through a moment of change, it was a difficult period, but at the end of the day I am very very happy with how things are going today. The Walker Art Center is an extraordinary museum with great history and a great staff and if it had not given me so much stimuli I probably would have given up.

My first project at the Walker was the Jimmie Durham exhibition “At the Center of the World” (2017), it was a pitstop for the exhibition originally produced by the Hammer Museum. “At the Center of the World” arrived at the Walker after the reopening of Museum’s Sculpture Garden in June 2017. Among the sculptures on display was the Sam Durant Scaffold, a large scaffold that represents the massacre of 38 Native Americans one by one, Dakota precisely, which occurred in 1862 in Mankato, a town 80 miles from Minneapolis. This sculpture sparked a harsh reaction amongst the Dakota community, to the point that it was removed during a ceremony. The exhibition by Jimmie Durham (in fact the first retrospective dedicated to him in American museums) opened three weeks later. Jimmie is considered by us Europeans as the icon of Native American artists, but for Native Americans this is not the case, because Jimmie has simply refused to provide evidence of his Cherokee origin and has never wanted to undergo the bureaucratic procedure imposed by American administration. A very complex story where many people have very precise positions, which are not easy to navigate through and which go way over the art itself. When the Museum presented his retrospective, huge controversy erupted once again.

So this was my tumultuous debut at the Walker. Today the museum is in great health. We re-opened the Sculpture Garden after a major re-design and new big acquisitions, we successfully completed a big capital campaign. More importantly we have had great Walker-organized and co-organized exhibitions such as Merce Cunningham: Common Time; Nairy Baghramian: Deformation Professionelle; Allen Ruppersberg: Intellectual Property 1968-2018 and Siah Armajani: Follow this Line. Also we have already planned ahead of us and have a very strong program for the years to come of both major group and solo exhibitions as well as more emerging artists projects.

Mara Sartore: So from what I understand, the exhibition that just opened, dedicated to Mario Garcia Torres is your own doing …

Vincenzo de Bellis: Yes, but in reality except for the Jimmie’s exhibition, which came from the Hammer, I feel owning all the exhibitions I organized at the Walker: “Nairy Baghramian Deformation Professionelle”, which I took over one year before its opening and of which finally the beautiful catalogue has been released, and then a group exhibition entitled “I am You, You are too” which I co-curated with my colleague Pavel Pyś.

Mara Sartore: Tell us about “Illusion Brought Me Here” the solo exhibition dedicated to the work of Mario Garcia Torres?

Vincenzo de Bellis: To open immediately with a statement of the kind that appeal to our marketing team: it is the biggest exhibition by Mario in a museum. A selection of 45 works, from 2002 to today, essentially spanning his career but it is not a retrospective as such because there are both past works and also some new works.
It is a survey exhibition that is difficult to translate into Italian.
As many may know, Mario and I have been collaborating for a very long time.
We met in 2004 and then in 2010 at Peep-Hole with Bruna (Roccasalva) we put together his first solo show in Italy which was titled ‘I Will be With you Shortly.’
When I arrived at the Walker Art Center and began to study the collection and the exhibition history in detail, I was immediately struck by the fact that he had never even participated in a Walker exhibition nor that the museum had holdings in the collection. This to me sounded almost a paradox since there are so many artists and many works that Mario mentioned in his production that are part of our collection or have been exhibited here. So I spoke immediately to director Olga Viso about inviting Mario. In October 2016 I started working on the project. we rather started small but in the two years we worked together we expanded the scope of the project, which now occupy not only the gallery spaces, but also the two cinemas.
The exhibition features 45 works, of which 4 are new projects, 2 specifically conceived for the Walker and 2 more autonomous projects by Mario.

The starting point was to create a retrospective of Mario’s works without showing them all so we worked on a soundtrack that occupies a room but expands throughout the show. This is composed of a selection edited by Mario and a team of composers, of audio clips taken from 20 of his film works (which will not be on display). Regarding the two site specific works, one is an App named “Illusion Brought Me Here”, for which Mario has asked and involved 14 key project employees to become part of the exhibition. The app works with augmented reality and is activated whilst viewing the exhibition, augmented reality is developed by characters that work as avatars, demonstrating how for the artist each of his pieces is always the result of a number of multi-skilled workers.

The other piece that I would like to talk about, which I deem crucial and I think the museum will acquire, is called “Goodbye, Goodbye”, this occupies a whole room in which there will be a video, a granite base, drawings and photographs . It all stems from an image that represents the destruction of the Museum in 1969. In the picture we see the wrecking ball that destroys the museum and a lady who makes a video with a super8, this lady we discovered – thanks to Mario – being the granddaughter of founder of the Walker, was Louise Walker McCannel, who made videos but being a upper middle-class woman this prevented her from being an artist. At one point in her life she donated her house to the museum that went onto to sell it and with the proceeds created funds for acquisitions, therefore a very key character for the history of the Walker. We asked the family for the rights to remount all 4 film reels that had been filmed in a single 10 minute film, the videos were then donated to the Museum and now they are part of our collection.

Mara Sartore: You’ve been in Minneapolis now for two years, how is Italy regarded from The United States. What do you think about Milovan Farronato’s choice and the three artists which will represent Italy for the next Biennale?

Vincenzo de Bellis: I would like to make a very important distinction between the generations of established artists and those emerging. The more consolidated Italian artists and art are both well represented and well known and I think I can safely say that this is the case world over. Alas, for the emerging generation of Italian artists, unfortunately, the situation is quite different where Italy is seen as a marginal country from this point of view. May I underline that I do not agree. It is matter of fact, and I hope that everyone will agree, and evidence shows that we have come to a standstill in the succession of a younger generations of artists. There are three or four, among those born in the seventies that have a certain visibility but then the closer we get to the more recent generations, the more the number drastically declines. This does not mean that they are lacking talent and so deserve less visibility, quite the opposite. It is phenomenon that I almost entirely attribute to the the Italian Academic system, which is an old fashioned system where professors thrive over the nurturing of professional artists.
There are many other factors that also play their part mostly linked to poor institutional support and the market.
This is why I must say that support projects such as those of the Italian Council and the Quadrennial are of fundamental importance and I would like to applaud those who have made it happen.

As far as the Pavilion is concerned: I am a firm believer in the fact that one should appoint an artist and then she or he should decide with whom to work with as a curator. It is not the first time that I’ve said this and therefore I am not afraid of being contested. The pavilion belongs to the artists. If we were to record our chats during the vernissage, those when we give each other advice of what should be seen or not, we always say: Have you seen the Tino Sehgal’s German Pavilion? Go see McQueen! Nauman is unmissable. Nobody, and fortunately so, cites the names of those who have curated these pavilions.
For this same reason, my personal opinion is that a Pavilion should always represent just one artist or two at the most. This is why, primarily reducing the size of the pavilion and then taking it to a more central position are two other obsessions of mine.

I firmly believe that the Cuoghi pavilion, Husni-Bey, Calò curated by Cecilia Alemani was the best Pavilion in the past ten years. Finally something to be really proud of globally. But that of 2007 with Penone and Vezzoli with two powerful personal projects, dedicated to artists of different generations, still represents my personal preference. If we were able to bring it down to a single artist, it would really be ideal. It is clear that with a 2000 square meter pavilion it is practically impossible. But if we could manage to make these changes happen, then finally we could concentrate on the artist and the quality of their work.

To return to the artists: Enrico David is an artist who deserves great respect, on my part and I hope for everyone. His career is there for all to see, Liliana Moro is a very sophisticated artist, I know her very well and I admire enormously, in regards to Chiara Fumai, a tribute to a person who is no longer with us, and with whom Milovan had worked with since the beginning of her career, therefore a great opportunity for the curator to demonstrate her talent in remembrance of the artist. I think that Milovan has given space to three artists of great quality, who navigate different territories and for individual reasons deserve to represent our country. They are heartfelt choices for Milovan who has always followed their individual careers as artists and in my opinion this is the way it should be. It is a demonstrates a seriousness and the ability to take on the right dose of responsibility.

Mara Sartore

  • Vincenzo de Bellis, Photo credits: Bobby Rogers, Courtesy Walker Art Center Vincenzo de Bellis, Photo credits: Bobby Rogers, Courtesy Walker Art Center
  • Mario García Torres, Mario García Torres, "Illusion Brought Me Here", Exhibition view, 2018. Courtesy of Walker Art Center
  • Mario García Torres, Mario García Torres, "Illusion Brought Me Here", Exhibition view, 2018. Courtesy of Walker Art Center
  • Mario García Torres, Mario García Torres, "Illusion Brought Me Here", Exhibition view, 2018. Courtesy of Walker Art Center
  • Mario García Torres, Mario García Torres, "Illusion Brought Me Here", Exhibition view, 2018. Courtesy of Walker Art Center
  • Mario García Torres, Mario García Torres, "Illusion Brought Me Here", Exhibition view, 2018. Courtesy of Walker Art Center
  • Jimmie Durham, “At the Center of the World”, Exhibition view, Walker Art Center (2017) Jimmie Durham, “At the Center of the World”, Exhibition view, Walker Art Center (2017)
  • Installation view of the exhibition Nairy Baghramian: Déformation Professionnelle, 2017. (Photo: Gene Pittman, ©Walker Art Center) Installation view of the exhibition Nairy Baghramian: Déformation Professionnelle, 2017. (Photo: Gene Pittman, ©Walker Art Center)
Lisbon - Interviews

“In the Middle is a Good Place to Be”: an Interview with John Akomfrah

1 month ago

On the occasion of the press preview held at the Museu Coleção Berardo for the film screening of “Purple“, we interviewed London based artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah.

Giulia Capaccioli: Before talking about the current exhibition, I’d like to talk about the beginning of your career. In 1982 you founded the Black Audio Film Collective and then co-founded in 1998, together with Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, Smoking Dogs Films.Tell us about the origin of these projects. How did the idea come about? And how did you meet your collaborators?

John Akomfrah: Black Audio Film Collective was made up of eight people from different areas of interest but all related to humanities. Most of us met in what is now Portsmouth University but about half of us had known each other since the late 70s, when we were young students. We were all studying things that suggested that you go out on your own, to make your own work. But I think that we must have known this unconsciously and deduced that things were not going to be completely successful on an individual basis. It was a kind of premonition that we needed to work together, and in fact things generally seem to work better when we were working collectively and that was the case culturally, certainly the case politically and aesthetically as well.
That sense of having a manifesto around which a group of friends or at least acquaintances could work together seemed the best way forward. But at some point either you achieve something that is on your list or someone on the other side doesn’t agree… and by 1997 we had a combination of those things. Because, you know, when we got together in 1982 the idea of a Black Collective of artists was a conceptual impossibility, it just hadn’t been explored before but by 95/96 it was clear that we could do it. Many of the people who weep in it were not necessarily interested in pursuing time based work and that’s why I then became part of a new collective Smoking Dogs Films. It was based on a joke that was told us by a friend about laboratory dogs in a tobacco factory. And it seemed to be so similar to the position where we were in because everyone was fed up in a way and we were also located in a lab where you couldn’t stop smoking… (that’s why I smoke electronic cigarettes now! He laughs…)

Giulia Capaccioli: In Purple, you explore the effects of climate change and its consequence for biodiversity on the planet’s different communities through both archival footage and newly shot film. When was the moment you felt the urgency to investigate the relationship between man and nature? Where do you position yourself between nature and humanity?

John Akomfrah: The distinction between nature and culture as a demarcation is very recent in historical terms, three, four centuries ago and into that demarcation natives and people of colour were thrown somewhere in the middle. For most of the last century people of colour were fighting to take themselves out of this inter zone to become human. I am now really keen to explore what is like to sit in that middle space out of choice. I think you have insights into the demarcation itself, the division that is necessary and important to understand when you sit in the middle. I’m not trying to say that everything is the same but I don’t believe anymore that there’ s a hierarchy of being at which some human being sits at the top of this apex. In the middle is a good space to be, in the middle is a space where someone grasps the distinction between the natural and the cultural. And I think is important to not have this binary of what constitutes the natural and what constitutes the cultural in which culture is always above and nature is underneath…. It’s not an interesting way to look at the planet! Of course it matters to me that carbon monoxide emissions are poisoning the planet but I’m not only interested in carbon monoxide emissions just because it affects human beings but I’m looking to see how that shapes how we behave on a planetary or global level as part of a chain, this is what is important for me to understand, the chain of things.

Giulia Capaccioli: In order to make this work you undertook a lengthy trip to the most remote islands in the world. Could you tell us about this experience?

John Akomfrah: Wether it was just me or me and my collaborators in Tahiti or in Greenland or Iceland it is important to me to experience these journeys as conversations with place. I don’t really go anywhere to film, I go to place because I want them to talk to me to greet these places, I know it sounds a bit hippy but places do have a way of registering your presence and they carry that, you can feel that when in a place hasn’t had many people through it and in many of the remote places we visited you could simply feel that they just hadn’t had many encounters with ‘us’. I mean…quite different to the landscape London or Lisbon (he laughs). So it’s an interesting thing to do when trying to make a global survey, to just go to places open minded and open ended. My ambition is for me to be simply In a place.

Giulia Capaccioli: You have also a special relationship with water….

John Akomfrah: Yes, water is an index of time, it marks our experience of time really well. You know all this time based work like this is artifice, it’s a construction. As for the sound of water, do you know how many different sounds of water there are in each of these six screens? There are at least 60 different sounds of water to create that liquidity.
I try to maintain a certain fidelity to the things that we either film or collect. I try to be faithful to the imprint they make on me. I normally film without sound but I make some recordings just to remember how the things sounded and then we recreate it after. It’s a promise I make to each moment, which I have to pay for afterwards and I do this in a way that allows the viewer to not have to sit there and question or doubt the truth of that moment. I don’t want viewers to view Purple and feel an inadequacy to the imagery which is voiced by the sound, it’s important that they feel that the two films are in some kind of conversation with whoever is experiencing it.

Giulia Capaccioli: So it has been three years of filming?

John Akomfrah: Yes, pretty much but not constant. It’s very much a mosaic of different impressions.

Giulia Capaccioli: Tell us about Greenland, for example?

John Akomfrah: Well I have friends living in Greenland, and they were telling me about the disappearance of glacier in the area they live and when I went there I was actually able to see the disappearance of the ice, it’s pretty clear. But it’s not necessarily something that can be shown. Cinema is about the event and always struggles with memory, moving images struggle with time because they appear to be telling a tale of time, but it is always in the present so the passage of time is difficult to give back and demonstrate. So it’s difficult to show climate change, unless I went over a 10 year time period or with time-lapse, so you have to find other means by which you say this and this, basically, is what I am trying to do with my work.

Giulia Capaccioli: You live and work in London, what is your relationship like with the city? Which places do you enjoy the most and where do you spend most of your time?

John Akomfrah: At the moment I’m slightly disenchanted with it, I’ve lived in London almost all my conscious life, I moved there from Ghana at the age 5, so I’ve lived there through all the different ages and the emotional states in my life from my childhood to the present. So I know it very well but more importantly it knows me very well. But I’m kind of disenchanted with it now because there’s something almost cataclysmic in the change in London now. People who are younger than me and who are growing up in the area where I live will not be able to have the relationship that I’ve had with the city because the city is becoming a bit like Manhattan. It’s just not affordable anymore…
But there are places I love…if I had to take a fragment of my life I would take the one where I’m standing on Primrose Hill looking down, for example, something I’ve filmed many times or driving through the outskirts on the north circular in the early morning is a beautiful feeling and tell us something about the quality of light at that time of the day and that semi abandoned state in which London finds itself is just great. I’m also quite sad about the passing of the London that I grew up in, that’s almost all now gone and that change I fear is irreversible.
Nevertheless there are signposts of change, things and people coming and going, the flight of manuality…I don’t think there are many places left in London where people use their own hands to do anything anymore. Manufacturing areas are gone…A certain kind of tactile relationship with life is not now a feature of London life, everybody is involved in something that doesn’t involve them… so we are locked into this relationship with the outside.
But it’s an extraordinary city. There are more than 9 million people in the city but it doesn’t feel like it, the city is made up of a series of can go for one year without going to a certain area. I’ve lived in Newington Green since the late 80s but I grew up in West London…

Giulia Capaccioli

  • John Akomfrah John Akomfrah
  • John Akomfrah, John Akomfrah, "Purple", Exhibition view, Museu Coleção Berardo, 2018
  • John Akomfrah, John Akomfrah, "Purple", Exhibition view, Museu Coleção Berardo, 2018
  • John Akomfrah, John Akomfrah, "Purple", Exhibition view, Museu Coleção Berardo, 2018
  • John Akomfrah, John Akomfrah, "Purple", Exhibition view, Museu Coleção Berardo, 2018
Turin - Interviews

DAMA 2018: A Conversation with Giorgio Galotti, Domenico de Chirico and Martha Kirszenbaum

2 months ago

Mara Sartore: Let’s start from the beginning. How did the idea of DAMA come about?

Giorgio Galotti: When we started DAMA, three years ago, it was a reaction to a system of art fairs that galleries like mine do not support, due to questions of position, objectives and expenses. With DAMA we are able to present a new generation of artists in direct dialogue with the history of the city, and for an emerging artist or a young gallery it means a lot because this kind of surrounding is not easy to deal with alone, in this way we are creating a kind of collaboration that could help all of us to be little bit more powerful in a complex system like that of the art world. Furthermore the focused selection at DAMA helps collectors to focus their attention on just one artist per gallery, with less than 20 artists in total, also in my opinion it helps a novice collector to understand better the vision of an artist today.
Domenico oversees the selection of the artists, developing an exhibition project that is primarily made up of site-specific interventions.
Over the years, DAMA has changed in terms of production. The first year there were works that had been formerly exhibited elsewhere and that were showcased at DAMA for their strength and thanks to Domenico’s curatorial work, but things have gradually changed.

Domenico de Chirico: Yes, this year we have given a more experimental and site-specific edge to the exhibition. We wanted to create a contrast, featuring works that are usually conceived for very different types of spaces, those “white cube” exhibition spaces. From this year, the selection criteria has allowed us to bring together artworks created specifically for this context.

Mara Sartore: This year DAMA has arrived at its 3rd edition. What’s new for 2018? Tell us about Corte?

Giorgio Galotti: Year by year we are trying to satisfy the needs and requests from the galleries or from the visitors, so this year we’ve introduced some new features, three of which are important for the growth of DAMA. First is the support from Camera di Commercio di Torino that from next year will give us the availability of some of their beautiful rooms at Palazzo Birago, where we hosted the press conference this past Wednesday. The second is the support of a group of Italian Collectors named ‘Collection of Collections’, they will start a partnership with DAMA supporting the production of one artist’s book year by year.
The third is the introduction of ‘Corte’ as you mentioned. It is a new section dedicated to open air installations. Starting this year in the courtyard of Palazzo Saluzzo di Paesana with a project by Nick Oberthaler presented by Furiosa, a brand-new independent space based in Monte Carlo.

Mara Sartore:  Why DAMA? Can you explain the origin and meaning of this name?

Giorgio Galotti: The playful idea we had was to put aside the “court ladies”. Dama is the chessboard, whose free spots are metaphorically occupied by the participating galleries. Above all this name works internationally, and is easy to remember.

Domenico de Chirico: In addition, when the galleries are reconfirmed for the next edition- and this happens for a maximum of two years – there is a move typical to the game, the galleries shift from one room to another. The reconfirmation therefore also implies a location shift and metaphorically the gallery moves to a new square on the chessboard.

Mara Sartore: Can you introduce me to the concept behind this years’ “Live Programme”?

Martha Kirszenbaum: For this year’s Live Programme, I have invited four international artists whose practices of performance and film bear a strong interest in popular culture —notably music and dance, breaking the hierarchies between what is commonly named as “high” and “low” cultures, and bringing intimacy and notions of identities to the core of the exhibition space. Warsaw-based Alex Baczynski-Jenkins presents “Federico”, a minimal choreography of touch between two performers, a performance of desire in the smallest scale, that mobilises affect and sensuality, as a means for a queer archive of touch. Moroccan-born and Brooklyn-based Meriem Bennani’s film retrospective interlaces references to globalised popular culture with the vernacular and traditional representation of her native Moroccan culture and visual aesthetics that she captures with her iPhone. Finally Berlin-based performers Tobias Spichtig performs a selection of songs in the genre of the “standard,” with piano accompaniment by Theresa Patzschke, and including some classical baroque as well as Italian pop. Furthermore presenting time-based works, such as film and performances is always a challenge at an art fair where visitor’s attention span is very limited and focused on buying artworks. This is precisely what made me want to develop the programme!

Mara Sartore: I heard about a policy selection for galleries that is by invitation only, how does it work and how do you select no-profits?

Domenico de Chirico: Yes, the selection of the galleries and no-profits come about without an open call because we want to avoid a dispersion of time and energy considering the space we work in and as principal concept behind DAMA project. An open call would require a massive selection process, that’s why we thought the best choice was to make a selection in line with our curatorial concept. Usually the first step is to confirm only some of the galleries that participated in the previous edition to give a sense of continuity and to give the same galleries the possibility to continue a sort of itinerary within the whole project. Then, the selection proceeds by considering the validity of the solicited proposals, we also try to cover a vast geographical area. Regarding the no-profits, we are interested in rewarding those who, in our opinion, are able to structure projects that are on the same level as the participating galleries. The entire selection is based on meritocracy, and looks for valid and innovative yet possibly site-specific artistic proposals. We want to bring to DAMA works and artists that are not overestimated in the art market and among the Italian audience as we are not interested in following trends. We also try to bring freshness to DAMA, something stimulating and participatory and include galleries and artists that have not had the chance to exhibit yet. For Antenna Space in Shanghai, for example, DAMA was the first time the gallery had participated in a fair in Italy .

Mara Sartore: And how have collectors reacted over the last 3 years?

Giorgio Galotti: It is great to receive their positive feedback. They see DAMA as something intrinsic to them, where they do not have the “aggressive” trade fair context  imposed on them, where it seems that they have to buy at any cost. Here at DAMA they have time to talk, to focus on and to understand the work of a specific artist. This is made possible thanks to the limited number of participants, which this year reaches its maximum of 16 galleries, starting with 12 participations in 2016, then 14 in 2017. An increasing number is only due to the presence of the “Court” section, the space dedicated to outdoor works exhibited in the courtyards of other palazzo’s or public areas.

Mara Sartore: In 2013 you moved to Turin, leaving Rome. The art week in Turin is internationally renowned and a must see event in Italy, but it has been said that from the commercial point of view it is not very lucrative…

Giorgio Galotti: The major Italian collectors are located between Turin and Veneto. Milan, Naples and Palermo also play their part, but perhaps we must get rid of the thought that opening a gallery in a specific place implies a geographically local collecting public. I love dealing in this area because there are a few galleries, and this is of course an advantage. As for the city’s art scene, in Turin there is the most beautiful museum of contemporary art, Castello di Rivoli, two major Italian art foundations, and many non-profits organisations that rely on an international audience. The support of the sponsors is also excellent. So I am fully satisfied with the choice of having my gallery in Turin, and even if I spend my life mostly in Milan rather than in Turin, I would never move the gallery to Milan.

Mara Sartore: Regarding the participation fee, how is DAMA placed compared to other fairs?

Giorgio Galotti: Being a gallery owner I am well aware of the costs of participating in a fair. For this reason, we have quantified the expenses of the building’s rent and the general organisation costs and we have divided the costs with the participating galleries. The fee is half of what an emerging trade fair could cost, DAMA is absolutely affordable despite not being an open-call project. This allows us to ask the galleries to invest more on the production since their participation fee comes to about 1500 / 2000 euros.

Mara Sartore: Since DAMA’s inception, as a gallerist what has been the most rewarding of the success so far?

Giorgio Galotti:  I would say that the most important thing for us is having the opportunity to get in touch with people and the chance to build a proper dialogue with visitors, journalists, collectors, and we believe this is the approach that emerging fairs should have. This is why we do not want to categorise ourselves as a fair.

Mara Sartore

  • Martha Kirszenbaum © Deborah Farnault Martha Kirszenbaum © Deborah Farnault
  • Giorgio Galotti © A.Ruth Giorgio Galotti © A.Ruth
  • Domenico de Chirico © Tassili Calatroni, 2016 Domenico de Chirico © Tassili Calatroni, 2016
  • DAMA 2018, Nick Oberthale Exhibition view, (Furiosa) Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano DAMA 2018, Nick Oberthale Exhibition view, (Furiosa) Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano
  • DAMA 2018, Renata de Bonis, Exhibition view, (Giorgio Galotti) Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano DAMA 2018, Renata de Bonis, Exhibition view, (Giorgio Galotti) Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano
  • DAMA 2018, Yves Scherer (Cassina Projects) and Nika Neelova (Osnova), Exhibition view, Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin DAMA 2018, Yves Scherer (Cassina Projects) and Nika Neelova (Osnova), Exhibition view, Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin
  • DAMA 2018, Caroline Acaintre (Arcade Gallery) Exhibition view, Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano DAMA 2018, Caroline Acaintre (Arcade Gallery) Exhibition view, Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano
  • DAMA 2018, Marcin Dudek, Installation view, (Edel Assanti), Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano DAMA 2018, Marcin Dudek, Installation view, (Edel Assanti), Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano
  • DAMA 2018, Johanna Von Monkiewitsch, Installation view, (Berthold Pott), Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano DAMA 2018, Johanna Von Monkiewitsch, Installation view, (Berthold Pott), Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana, Turin © Sebastiano Pellion Di Persano
Turin - Interviews

Artissima – 25 Years of Art: an Interview with Ilaria Bonacossa and Other Artissima Stories

2 months ago

For the 25th anniversary, Artissima fair presents Artissima Stories. 25 years of art, an exclusive format of interviews in blog and video formats, coordinated by Edoardo Bonaspetti and Stefano Cernuschi, with Anna Bergamasco. A programme of 25 stories about Artissima: 5 directors, 5 curators, 5 collectors and 10 gallerists. 25 viewpoints on Artissima and the contemporary art world, released every week at the fair website and social media profiles, from September to November.

In the frame of this project, we asked Fair Director Ilaria Bonacossa a few questions on the fair’s anniversary.

Mara Sartore: Can you introduce us to Artissima Sound? The project will be hosted by OGR and is one of the new initiatives to celebrate the fairs 25th anniversary.

Ilaria Bonacossa: Artissima Sound is a bit of a bet. We will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fair with a new section dedicated to sound experimentation in the monumental spaces at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni: 15 immersive, vibrant and poetic installations, selected by two international curators, Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Berlin-based art critic and associate professor of history and theory of art at HEAD in Geneva, and Nicola Ricciardi, artistic director at OGR.
The society in which we live, constantly assails us with images and videos, so I have the impression that the ‘aural’ dimension is returning to relevance.
The works, presented by Italian and international galleries, will be on sale; a will, to sell sound, which arises from the attention of Artissima on experimentation and new trends, revealing the ability of sound to impose itself and engage despite its intangible nature.
Among the 15 proposals, a jury made up by Anna Colin, associate curator of Lafayette Anticipations of Paris and co-director of the Open School East of Margate, Lorenzo Giusti, director of GAMEC, Bergamo and Judith Waldmann, curator and head of monitoring at Kasseler Kunstverein in Kassel, will select the winner of the second edition of the OGR Award.

Mara Sartore: A brief excursus to the key moments of 25 years of Artissima. And how will the topic “Time” present itself for this years edition?

Ilaria Bonacossa: “Time is on our side” marks 25 years of innovation. From 1994 to today, Artissima has transformed, responding to changes in the art world and foreseeing trends. Over the span of a quarter of a century it has hosted 1394 galleries, 946 of which are foreign and has witnessed the birth and development of talent, both in the galleries and among the artists.

A young Cattelan, for example, featured in the first edition and was one of the artists in the catalogue.

In 1996 the fair website launched,, and Artissima became an opportunity to promote contemporary art week in Turin, creating a fruitful collaboration between institutions dedicated to the contemporary in the city.

In 2000 the programme dedicated to visiting collectors was established and for the first time the number of foreign galleries exceeds those of the Italian.

In 2001 Present Future came to life, a section that has marked the emergence of many talents and that for 18 years has supported emerging art with the illy Pesent Future Award. An important anniversary that will be brought to light at the fair via a video tracing the history of this long-standing partnership with illycaffè.

2002 saw the entry of the New Entries section open to galleries  which have been active for less than 5 years; this year, thanks to the Professional Art Trust Fair Fund, 3 exhibitors in the section received financial recognition to support their participation in Artissima.

Since 2003, the Foundation for Modern and Contemporary Art CRT has provided funds for acquisitions at the fair, for GAM and Castello di Rivoli.

In 2004 the Artissima brand was acquired by the City of Turin and the Piedmont Region and became a public fair, whose management is entrusted to the Fondazione Torino Musei.

Artissima is the first fair to have had contemporary art curators as directors and this has marked its DNA: from 2006 to 2009 Andrea Bellini, from 2010 to 2011 Francesco Manacorda and from 2012 to 2016 Sarah Cosulich.

Among the most significant moments to remember we have; the projects in the theatres of the city by important international artists and l’École of Stephanie in 2009; the birth of Back to the Future in 2010 which launched the international trend for the rediscovery of pioneers of art; the Per4M section commissioned by Cosulich, dedicated to performance art and the “Shit and Die” exhibition curated by Maurizio Cattelan, which in 2014 recorded more than 30,000 visitors.

In 2017, with my first Artissima came about the Drawings section and the project “Piper Learning at the Discotheque” that involves the city on a journey back in time.

For the twenty-fifth anniversary, in partnership with Combo, we launched “Artissima Experimental Academy” whose first appointment, DAF Struttura, combines the educational side of things with a participatory experimental and technological dimension, welcoming students, international speakers, experimenters and artists in an environment – “Structure” – which synthesises the sound. A factory open to the public that focuses on the artistic creation through exchanges and contamination led by the experimental musician Jan St. Werner (founder of the Mouse on Mars group).

The topic of time also manifests itself at the Meeting Point by La Stampa thanks to a programme of conversations curated by Paola Nicolin, which aims to offer the public a plural proposal, highlighting both Artissima’s past and thanks to its experimental character its ability to become a treasure trove to the history of the contemporary art market in Italy.

The time of artistic creation is central to the new Artissima Junior, in partnership with Juventus, to allow children to create a choral installation at the fair together with the Argentine artist Alek O.

Lastly, this year we have launched “Artissima Stories 25 Years of Art“, an integrated programme through blog and video, edited by Edoardo Bonaspetti and Stefano Cernuschi. A programme of 25 interviews with important key figures in the history of Artissima: 5 directors, 5 curators, 5 collectors and 10 gallery owners. 25 different points of view on Artissima and the world of contemporary art.

Mara Sartore

  • Ilaria Bonacossa @ Silvia Pastore Ilaria Bonacossa @ Silvia Pastore
  • Courtesy of Artissima Courtesy of Artissima
  • Courtesy of Artissima
  • Oval, Artissima 2017, Photo: Perottino – Alfero – Bottallo – Formica Oval, Artissima 2017, Photo: Perottino – Alfero – Bottallo – Formica
  • Artissima, Internazionale d’arte contemporanea, Torino, 2016 © Perottino-Alfero-Tardito/ Artissima 2016 Artissima, Internazionale d’arte contemporanea, Torino, 2016 © Perottino-Alfero-Tardito/ Artissima 2016
  • Artissima Special Projects, DAF Artissima Special Projects, DAF