Miami - Interviews

Emmett Moore: Miami Through an Artist’s Perspective

1 week ago

On the occasion of our special issue on Art Basel Miami Beach, we asked artist Emmett Moore to draw up a special artistic itinerary around Miami and the Beaches.

Emmett Moore is a Miami-based designer and sculptor. His work has been shown institutionally at the RISD Museum, the Frost Art Museum, the Miami Art Museum, and the Bass Museum of Art. In 2014, he was the first Miami-based designer to exhibit a solo project at Design Miami. Gallery shows and projects include those at Locust Projects, Miami; Patrick Parrish Gallery, New York; and Moran Bondaroff, Los Angeles. He received his BFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. The artist is represented by Nina Johnson.

“I’d start any visit to Miami in Little River, also known as Little Haiti. This area has become a hub for Miami’s gallery scene and is home to two of my favorites, Nina Johnson and Bill Brady. Nina represents me and also happens to have one of the best programs in Miami.
From there I would go to Clives Café, a legendary Jamaican place. I’ve been eating their food since they’re modest beginning in a tiny hole in the wall in Wynwood. I usually get their jerk chicken with a glass of their homemade sorrel drink. They also serve a few Jamaican dishes that aren’t on the menu like Ackee and Saltfish.
After lunch I would start heading downtown to check out the Pérez Art Museum designed by the Swiss architecture giants Herzog and De Meuron. They also designed the coolest parking garage in the world at 1111 Lincoln rd. Go by Gramps in Wynwood on the way for a cool drink in their eclectic courtyard. It has a backyard jungly vibe and the walls and furniture are covered by the work of local artists, including a local legend, a Haitian Muralist named “Serge”.
After checking out the exhibitions at PAMM, take a look at the surrounding architecture from their terrace. You’ll be able to see Zaha Hadid’s “One Thousand Museum”, one of her last projects before she passed away. Also visible from PAMM is the Arquitectonica-designed American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat.
Just down the street from PAMM is the usual late night end-up called The Corner if you’re ready for another drink. Right next door is an excellent new coffee shop called All Day if you’d prefer a coffee. On the other side of the street, a couple doors down is the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. Home to one of the best private art collections in Miami.
My absolute favorite place for dinner in downtown Miami is Soya & Pomodoro. It’s an authentic Italian place in an old Bank with high vaulted ceilings. It feels like being in Havana, especially when they have live jazz.
Mac’s Club Deuce (the oldest bar in Miami) is pretty much the only bar I go to on Miami Beach. Go there, jump in the ocean to pull yourself together then go to the French Bistro A La Folie Café for a crêpe and a glass of wine.
I am afraid that after this itinerary of art and drinking getting back to the hotel will be a bit of a challenge…”

Claudia Malfitano

  • Emmett Moore, Photo by Monica Mcgivern Emmett Moore, Photo by Monica Mcgivern
  • Emmett Moore, Double Barrel, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson Emmett Moore, Double Barrel, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson
  • Emmett Moore, Installation view, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson Emmett Moore, Installation view, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson
Interviews

Cloud and Tears: an Interview with Michael Sailstorfer

2 weeks ago

On the occasion of his upcoming solo show at Proyectos Monclova, I interviewed German artist Micheal Sailstorfer to get some more details about the artworks he is showcasing at the gallery and to discover more about his art and practice.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start from the exhibition you’re having at the gallery. Which are the artworks you are presenting and how did you start your collaboration with the gallery?

Micheal Sailstorfer: Some time ago the gallery contacted me and came by my studio in Weißensee, Berlin. After a great first meeting I came for a visit to see their gallery space in Mexico City and we started planning our first show right away. For my exhibition I will show a selection of new works from my mask series – sculptures of masks made of aluminum, bronze or iron that are characterized by reduced stylistic features. The models of the masks were first constructed out of cardboard, then cast in a sand-casting process in the relevant metal. In between these masks a “solar cat”, which is a cast-aluminum sculpture of a wildcat sitting in the rafters and reaching its eyes closed toward a neon light, meditating and absorbing the energy of the light.  I will also show “Zeit ist keine Autobahn – Mexico” – a car tire, connected to a motorized engine that spins against the white gallery wall slowly wearing down the rubber of the tire. The video work “Tränen” plays with weight, gravity and lightness. In it iron teardrops damage an old house in the Bavarian countryside. I will also show the work “Clouds” which is an installation of large black clouds made of looped truck tire innertubes.

C.I: Your art deals with the idea that human being has not necessarily control on nature, you question the relationship between man and environment. Could you tell us more about this idea and do you translate this into your art?

M.S: I see in my work more of an exploration of the connection between man and environment or a contrast between nature and humans. For example in my works “Waldputz” and “Schwarzwald” it’s about men creating an individual, artificial space in the existent nature and about the conflicts that emerge from that. In both works nature is transformed into geometrical spaces – in one case from removing parts of nature, in the other case in coloring a certain area.

C.I: You mainly work with sculpture, video, and site specific intervention. Could you tell us about the creative process of your artwork? Where did you take inspiration from?

M.S: My works are mostly developed specifically for each exhibition site or space. I always start with a site visit and then realize an idea special to the space.
Everyday life is my primary inspiration.

C.I: How is your typical day as an artist? How does your studio look like?

M.S:  When I’m not traveling, I work from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm in my studio. But besides from that there is no typical day. Mostly it’s about finding new solutions to pieces I am working on. My studio is an old film studio from the 1920’s, which I love for its high ceilings and beautiful light. I’ve been there for 12 years.

C.I: What’s next? Are you working on any new project?

M.S:  I’m always working on several projects at the same time including upcoming gallery shows and public art projects.
I was recently awarded the August-Macke Prize, so for the award exhibition I realized a new work called “Two apples” – it’s two aluminum cast apples painted with a trompe-l’oeil effect, that are hanging from the ceiling and exchanging lightning bolts with high voltage electricity.
I have also been working on a project for the federal environmental agency in Dessau where I’m realizing a sculpture with the help of bees, and I’m currently planning a solo exhibition at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (SAPS) museum in Mexico City to take place next year.

C.I: You live and work in Berlin, one of the capital of contemporary art which this year has seen the first edition of the new Berlin art fair. What do you think about the Berlin art scene? Do you think it’s a stimulating place for an artist? Which are the place you enjoy more in the city?

M.S: I love Berlin and I can’t imagine living in any other city. On the one hand it has tons of inspiration with lots of shows to see and on the other hand the quality of life is pretty good. My studio is the place I enjoy most.

Micheal Sailstorfer was born in 1979 in Velden, Germany. He currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. “Cloud and Tearsis his first solo show in Mexico City and it runs November 9 to December 22, 2017.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Michael Sailstorfer, Photo: Shirin Ourmutchi, Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA Michael Sailstorfer, Photo: Shirin Ourmutchi, Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA
  • Michael Sailstorfer, Himmel Berlin [Berlin Sky], 2012. Installation view in Boros Collection, Berlin, Germany Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA Michael Sailstorfer, Himmel Berlin [Berlin Sky], 2012. Installation view in Boros Collection, Berlin, Germany Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA
  • Micheal Sailstofer, M.59, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, Photo: Studio Michael Sailstorfer Micheal Sailstofer, M.59, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, Photo: Studio Michael Sailstorfer
Interviews

Audemars Piguet Art Commission 2017: An Interview with Lars Jan

2 weeks ago

LA-based, American artist Lars Jan has been selected for the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission to present a major new artwork curated by Kathleen Forde during Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2017: Slow-Moving Luminaries”.
Jan is a designer, activist, photographer, director, writer and visual artist. He is the founder of Early Morning Opera, a genre-bending performance and art lab whose works explore emerging technologies, live audiences, and unclassifiable experience, reflecting his background in progressive activism.

Carla Ingrasciotta: You are the founder of “Early Morning Opera (EMO)”, a performance and art lab where you explore emerging technologies, live audiences and different languages and media. How and where did everything begin?

Lars Jan: I started performance in college. I had a tremendous teacher who introduced me to visual artists, cinema auteurs and a whole lineage of experimental performance practice that I hadn’t known existed. I started taking pictures five or six years before that, mostly of landscapes and things around my hometown in coastal Massachusetts, and crucially during a vacation to Yosemite National Park which blew my young mind, and developed them myself in a darkroom obsessively. I didn’t consider myself an artist till late into college, although photography was really my first form.

CI: One of the main subjects of your research is the analysis of the human behaviour within environmental aspects such as climate change and issues related to water (rising seas, in-tensifying floods, and extended droughts). The performance installation “HOLOSCENES” is probably one of the best examples of your interest. Could you tell us about the creative pro-cess of this work? Where did you take inspiration from?

LJ: The inspiration behind HOLOSCENES was a slow gestation, and came from a growing awareness of flooding in the 21st century. It originated from my sense of internal crisis around images of disaster that I felt I had been seeing everywhere. It started with Hurricane Katrina, and then continued through images of flooding that I saw from the disasters in Northern Pakistan in 2010. I was particularly affected by a photo that was captured by an incredible photojournalist called Daniel Berehulak. It is a gorgeous image that looks like a Renaissance painting, depicting a group of men in rushing water, the image is taken from above and captured my attention, making me want to read more about the horrifying situation it depicts. From my research, I discovered that a military helicopter was dropping aid including drinking water and crates, and as they hit the water, they broke and began to sink so people rushed to get to the aid before it was spoiled. Seeing people up to their waist, ankles, and necks, at different stages of alarm; and yet in this gorgeous composition, brought up a question relating to the relationship devastation and beauty – aesthetic composition as a transmissive mechanism for our darkest hours.
This theme underpins the idea for HOLOSCENES but the main inspiration came from a brief vision I had of a man sitting in a room looking at a newspaper turning the pages. Slowly the room started to fill with water, but rather than reacting as if there was a cri-sis, he just kept on turning the pages and ultimately holding his breath as the water passed over his mouth and nose, and continued to turn the pages as they dissolved in his hands. HOLOSCENES began as a project about flooding, and investigation into this topic led me to broader research on climate science. This in turn led me to behavioural sci-ence, the consideration of long-term thinking and the human capacity for empathy. So, in a way climate change has become a mirror for exposing certain human capacities, how they evolved, why they evolved, and their limitations. My new work entitled Slow-Moving Luminaries for the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission will further expand on some of these themes.

CI: Talking about yourself, you state that you’re an activist before an artist. How do you translate the interests you care about as an activist in your artwork? Which are the recur-ring themes you like to explore?

LJ: I would not say I am an activist in a traditional sense. When I was younger my mother was very proactive in helping people who were challenged in different ways by struc-tural systems stacked against them. She would show up and help. In high school I volun-teered in the Boston City Hospital in the AIDS clinic, which served mostly homeless and immigrant populations and I was never quite the same after that experience. When I be-came an artist in my early twenties, my volunteering dropped off. I experimented with — indulged in, maybe — different art forms. It was only when I began to have a sense of fluency across some forms that I started reintegrating some of the themes of social jus-tice, and my interests working in activism back into my work. Most recently I’ve become inspired by making work in public space, a progressive political act in itself. The works are never agitprop, but often suggestive — either by way of an aestheticized hypnosis or satire, or both — of a pretty simple question: that we could be a lot better to each other, ourselves, and our planet, so what is it in us that’s in the way?

CI: In your projects you always involve collaborators such as artists, scientists and institu-tions. How do you find your collaborators? Do you always work in group or you have also a private studio?

LJ: In 2004 I founded an art lab and performance lab called “Early Morning Opera” which is a loose network of frequent collaborators. A lot of these folks I met in various art scenes, in Philly, New York, grad school at CalArts, LA. I also fold in new collaborators for each project, and often these creative teams will include twenty to forty people working over the course of multiple years on the various stages of a particular work. Above all, I wanted to create a flexible process could adapt to the project at hand in a malleable way. I have always made visual work, media pieces, sculptural pieces, and taken photographs, but it was only during the last four or five years that I began considering these pieces beyond the context of performances they may have played a part in. During this period, I began working in my own studio establishing a separate solo practice. I think working mostly alone in a studio has helped counterpoint my sprawling collaborative projects and allowed me to explore other facets of an idea at a different rhythm from the works that demand extensive social interaction. Working in the studio has become a much larger proportion of my practice over the last few years.
At the moment, I am working in a studio in Los Angeles on the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission which will go on show during Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2017. It is an annual commissioning program by the Swiss watchmaker which supports artists that explore ideas related to complexity, precision, technology and science, so actually their interests very much overlapped with my own. I was also very lucky to be able to visit the home of Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus to learn more about the skill and craftsmanship inherent in their process.
There were a couple of things jumped at me right away and resonated with me as an artist. First, the artisans work on long timelines of development and concentration, making complex objects that take nearly a year to fabricate (especially Grande Complications). This kind of all-consuming, even eccentric, focus is consistent with my process. I take 2 to 4 years to develop a work, which resonates strongly with the rhythm of the watchmakers of the Vallée de Joux. I increasingly feel like there are two rhythms in the world right now: the millisecond rhythm that speaks to immediate gratification vs. an-other, slower rhythm that I am trying to connect to in my own life and with my work. My work is increasingly exploring and expanding into this other rhythm, and I find this pursuit ties in closely with the watchmakers of Audemars Piguet.
Also, when I looked at the way in which Audemars Piguet designs the interior of their timepieces, I was stunned by the aesthetic consideration that goes into the interior of watches that will never be seen by the wearer. I realized the pride of the watchmaker is as much focused on the interior of the watch as it is on its exterior, especially as the watchmakers of the Vallée de Joux were originally motivated by the mechanism of the piece. I work on complex systems for my installations and performances. There is a massive amount of aesthetic exploration and even embellishment that goes into a pro-cess that is itself the crucible for the final work. However, though much of this work is never seen, it lies at the heart of the finished piece.

CI: Son of émigrés from Afghanistan and Poland and growing up just outside Boston, you travelled around the world and are currently based in LA. How has this affected you as a person and as an artist?

LJ: Being the child of people who are from other countries gave me an intrinsic sense that there was a complex, beautiful world beyond American borders, and, generally speak-ing, I think that’s a perspective that’s profoundly lacking in the United States today. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, but because of my family – in particular my mom whose friends were also immigrants from different places such as India, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Greece – I was exposed to different languages, traditions and holidays. It is a version of America that I appreciate and love most. I love the purple mountain majesties too, but what I love above all are the multiple identities that go into making American communities. The value of transcultural, super lingual communication is something I aspire to in my work.

CI: What about your involvement with Audemars Piguet Art Commission? Do you already have in mind the project you will work on?

LJ: The project is called Slow-Moving Luminaries and it will take the form of an immersive, kinetic pavilion — on two levels with a footprint of about 100 by 50 feet — presented on the Miami Beach oceanfront. The whole piece for me is about oscillation, and is in response to conflicting feelings I’ve been having of late — on one hand the desire to slow down and contemplate reality to more effectively channel my energies, and, on the other, to scream for help.
The work will invite viewers to traverse a labyrinth on the lower level, which is populated by a series of minimalist, building-like sculptures rising and falling through the space, and disappearing into apertures in the ceiling by way of mechanical lifts. The upper deck will be covered by a pool of water, through which the sculptures will emerge and recede at varying speeds throughout the day. The sculptures and pool visually allude to the Mi-ami Beach skyline and open ocean visible from the viewing deck.
I came into this commission thinking about time the cycles of the planet versus the cycle of human behavior and our built environment — and in particular, the fragility and impermanence of the places where our land-based lives meet the sea.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Lars Jan, Photo by Kawai Matthews Lars Jan, Photo by Kawai Matthews
  • Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010 Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010
  • Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010 Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010
  • Lars Jan, Holoscenes Lars Jan, Holoscenes
  • Lars Jan, Holoscenes Lars Jan, Holoscenes
  • From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet
  • From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet
  • From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet
Turin - Interviews

Tutto Infinito: A Conversation with Patrick Tuttofuoco

2 weeks ago

On the occasion of our special digital issue on Artissima Art Week, I interviewed artist Patrick Tuttofuoco, one of the protagonists of the inaugural opening of the OGR. For this celebration he has realised “Tutto Infinito”, a 2,500 square metres futuristic landscape freely explorable by visitors.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Your large-scale installation was recently revealed to the public, coinciding with the “Big Bang”, the opening night of the OGR. How did this collaboration with institutions in Turin come about and how did you manage to create this sort of “theme park”, suitable for both adults and children?

Patrick Tuttofuoco: It is born from both a friendship and professional relationship with Nicola Ricciardi, artistic director of OGR. I have collaborated with him various times, he has curated some of my exhibitions, a public event in Milan and together we have published a book. This collaboration stems from an exchange that has already been established. For this project, Nicola asked me if I wanted to participate in the opening exhibition of OGR, conceived as an opening event, not only for the city itself but also to a wider reaching territory. For this reason the idea came about to collaborate with other realities and institutions in Turin, and so I was offered the opportunity to work on a project with CasaOz, to which I immediately accepted. I didn’t know about their existence, but we decided to meet. At the time in which we were talking about these ideas, the project you see in the exhibition did not yet exist, it was still to come, when I arrived at the CasaOz the experience was so wonderful and intense. I recorded them with a real urgency and objectivity which came from a very difficult reality but which is confronted with joy, as if it taken for granted that things should be this way. In places like this good things can be done but it is not always easy. At CasaOz children were to wonder free and play in a special place which creates a condition of normality, in kind and magical environment. CasaOz is divided into two sectors: one part is dedicated to hosting families from the surrounding area which have their children in therapy and need a place to stay and the other is a residency for families from the surrounding area who can bring their children in their free time, where recreational activities take place. It’s a place where children go to play and everything returns to normality. I was immediately convinced by the beauty of this, even though I didn’t yet know how my approach to working with them would be and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find a way to do it. Everything felt so wonderfully right; there wasn’t anything that could possibly go wrong, it was a place where people are able to feel at home, a sort of commune, where the children have fun. CasaOz is an extension of a private place, this was the magic.

C.I: Did you transfer the ethos of CasaOz into the concept for your installation for the exhibition at OGR?

P.T: Not exactly, but in some ways yes. I knew that I wanted to find a way to carry out this collaboration. I wasn’t asked to carry out workshops (as I have done in other contexts with children in schools and students at universities) but I needed to realise a piece that included the children in the construction of the organism of this exhibition. Therefore I needed to understand how I could lower the level and find a common interest, to be able to give life to this special place in my exhibition and to summarize our co-existence in the exhibition. During this phase, the first thing I had to do was to make contact with these people, get to know them and to fill the gap. A group of children who were interested in the project came together and with them we went on field trips together, using art as our common interest, we took advantage of the experience to go to museums together, such as the GAM, the Castello di Rivoli, to get to know each other in ‘neutral’ territory. It wasn’t a staged dialogue; it was instead a genuine experience. I showed them works that reflect my ideas about body language, and which are the fulcrum of my piece and the reason of the connection between them and myself. To them the existence of the body was singular and characterized. I had to transform limited situations into enlightening possibilities, focusing on the relationship between man, the environment and landscapes. For example, the works of Ana Mendieta, where the body becomes a surface that blends in with everything, bringing to the forefront historical, political and cultural issues. And yet these were their observations, from another point of view, with less cultural constraints, a purer and simpler approach, disenchanted and not dictated by ideas of statute or that what societies dictates could attribute to the work. They appreciated Ana’s work, despite my concerns for how they could interpret her art. The way they experienced this was unexpected. Following this first phase of collaboration, my work was then to imagine all these perceptions in creating my own piece. These outings and all of the works we looked at, thanks to the educator at CasaOz, the Zonarte network (who deal with the educational activities in the main institutions in Turin) were fundamental in stipulating a relationship with the kids. I learnt a lot from the experience on both an artistic and humane level. The most wonderful thing was that art was the principal instrument of understanding. It was an interesting experience.

C.I: On this topic, as an artist do you feel you have a social responsibility? In your opinion what role does contemporary art play in society today?

P.T: Contemporary art in the last few years (and by that I am referring to the end of the nineties until today) has significantly increased its capacity to connect with different disciplines and realities, if you think about the interrelation between art and architecture. It has become a social instrument. We have now, perhaps, entered into a dimension that is more traditional, in a positive sense: thanks to this experience, art has acquired tools to expand itself into new and wider dimensions. It is for this reason that there has been a turn around; we are in a time in which we can face the challenges that arise from society in a more mature manner. The crisis of 2008 was in actual fact a positive moment (not in economic terms, obviously) because after the experiences post 90s we can now create a healthy relationship with art and as a consequence with society.

C.I: On the topic of the contemporary and the invasion of technology, your work revolves around the concept of the individual, with the need to investigate identity. Thinking about the exhibition “Pretty Good Privacy”, by Federica Schiavo (2016), for which you have analysed that the individual today is formed on a two-fold level: one which is tangible with a corporeal presence as opposed to ephemeral appearance and how others see us. From here derives the analysis of the relationship with technology and the aliases with which we live. Where does the need to communicate this come from and how is this transposed in your work?

P.T: It happened naturally, a gut instinct, from an experience that was happening from within. I felt how much my identity was transformed in particular with regard to the external influence, which quickened everything up. I had the feeling that in the last six years technology and the speed of its evolution was so intense, a centripetal force and quick, erasing the concept of future itself. Such a steady transformation that there was no longer enough time to gain an understanding of what is happening around us.
This transformation guzzled me up and I perceived that our identity has been divided and polarized. Just think about virtual lives of social networks: as a matter of fact a new public space came into existence, a real but not physical where we interact and we behave in the same way as the material one although the division between physical and virtual reality in our brain has vanished. Our real identity not being palpable is exposed to greater and unexpected transformation this is a potentiality that every man owns, although the acceleration has been so fast in the last few years that the laws of physics and the space/time concept has become unperceivable. This discrepancy has caused stress but at the same time the potential to develop.
Mine was an intimate need and I found in art the tool to address a personal issue and my thought were geared in this direction. I have been thinking about my last personal exhibition at Studio Guenzani and when there was already an exchange with Nicola Ricciardi and I, this is a topic which is dear to me, which is concretised through the shaping of forms, which express not an aesthetic permanence but it’s functionality for my personal research.

C.I: It is therefore for this reason that sculpture is your principal method of communication, it responds to the necessity of yours to give a physical and tangible form to the urgencies you face as an individual. I’ve noticed that you have a tie to traditional artistic methods, what relationship do you have to the history of art? Thinking about the allusion to “Pietà Rondanini” by Michelangelo, on exhibit at the OGR, for example…

P.T: I feel like a child of the 90s, I was relieved to take works of art off pedestals, and free ourselves from institutions. These are values in which I believe greatly and still do in terms of growth, research and evolution as an artist. As such, at the beginning of my career, I did have a bond to the history of art, it has always been a great passion of mine, but I have always been more interested in alternative forms of production, such as industrial processes, re-using and transforming industrial material for the use of art, with lots of outsourcing, questioning and dismantling the notion of the author. This was the source of the debate. With time, after 2008, I underwent a transformation; I changed my outlook on the world and the role of art within society. I felt the need to establish a more simple relationship with my work, I created works myself, taking into account my physical and practical limits, which until then had been of an abstract nature. I had understood that man and the relationship to time had taking on an important and central role. The history of art began to infiltrate. With the logic, I think of the exhibition “Ambaradan” by Guenzani (2014), an exhibition that derived from the facade of Palazzo degli Omenoni that I went to look at when I was young. It was from there the exhibition came about, the goal was not to create a ‘geotag’ about a place but to start from an urban element within the landscape which would have a tie and a clear connection to the dimension of time and material, tied to the space- time concept. In this way to when I was thinking about what I want to bring to OGR, I understood that I wanted there to be an element which would portray this space-time element, and which would play its part in the construction of this parallel environment. In my eyes it isn’t works of art which tell the history of men, and to me the “Pieta Rondinini” is the sculpture which represents the first modern sculpture by Michelangelo, where the body is neither perfect nor whole, one does not find themselves in front of a true representation of a body. In the “Pieta” you find that space and time has been dilated, where the subject is not perfect but charged with far more entity, a continual transformation, a dimension which is much closer to the current human reality where paradoxically the presence of multiple identities generates unity, as it is closer to the human experience. In the sense the work of art by Michelangelo is more penetrating than any other classical sculpture which begs an exchange which is intense yet frontal, not introspective.

C.I: Why did you decide to move to Berlin? What differences do you find between the artistic scenes in Berlin compared to that of Italy?

P.T: As you can imagine there are many differences. I moved to Berlin in 2007, but after 10 years I am actually planning a return to Italy. Not because I am not happy there, it was actually very useful experience. In Italy we have a rich history, as we know, and this is both precious and limiting at the same time. Berlin is a bit of an abnormality compared to the rest of Germany, as New York is for the rest of the United States, it is a capital where things happen and which over the years has played a role for its own existence. From the fall of the wall Berlin has become a catalyst of events, a fertile humus for cultural initiatives rather than economic exploitation. This is perhaps the most important asset. It is a melting pot of information and art was the discipline that responded the quickest, welcoming change and in more fortunate cases being ahead of the game. In 2007 Berlin was already playing its part in the art world, there were already important galleries and I could enjoy the strength of art that wasn’t yet in confrontation with the market in an aggressive manner. Now it is changing, as is its relationship to economy. There is a substantial difference. In Berlin there is a different relationship between art and society: the role of the artist is identified as a necessary role in society, compared to Italy where, regardless of tradition and history, the artist doesn’t act in any recognised tax framework. Berlin is changing quickly, and the change is unstoppable and there is no point in trying to stop it. Places of freedom have disappeared but it is becoming a more important place on the map, a place where things get done. A dialogue with the world has been opened, it is more central. It was important to see a place where society gave a space and position to art, and where I enjoyed great freedom and personally speaking I tried to explore a place which was difficult for me, perhaps Los Angeles would have been more simple in regards to the type of artistic research I follow. But in Berlin I was able to enjoy a studio life, changing my approach to art. Now Berlin is still beautiful but it has, to me, become less special and more conventional than it was before.

C.I:  You were born and raised in Milan but you have had many collaborations and exhibitions around the world. In order to realise this last project, did you have the chance to explore the artistic scene in Turin?

P.T: I like the city a lot and for some time I have had the opportunity to create a strong professional ties to the city. With this project I was able to see how Turin works now, it has an interesting dimension. Following my experience in Berlin, I got used to a colder climate, a little discrete and formal, typical to that of Nordic countries, I got used to understanding their emotional behaviour and understand the positive side. In Turin I visited new areas, but to tell the truth I don’t perceive it as being neither distinct nor distant from Milan, for example. I prefer to perceive Italy not with regard to its local specificities but in a national dimension as a whole. As for the rest I believe that Turin hosts some of the most important cultural institutions in the country, established galleries, but also new, young and emerging tendencies.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Patrick Tuttofuoco. Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco, Pretty Good Privacy, 2016, Room 1, installation view, ph Andrea Rossetti – Federica Schiavo Gallery Milano Patrick Tuttofuoco, Pretty Good Privacy, 2016, Room 1, installation view, ph Andrea Rossetti – Federica Schiavo Gallery Milano
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco, Ambaradan, Exhibition view, Studio Guenzani, Milan 2014. Photo by Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco, Ambaradan, Exhibition view, Studio Guenzani, Milan 2014. Photo by Andrea Rossetti
Italy - Interviews

Mitochondria: Powerhouses, an Interview with Ahmed Mater

4 weeks ago

“Mitochondria: Powerhouses”, a new show by Ahmed Mater, is currently on view at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano.

A physician turned artist, Ahmed Mater is one of the most significant cultural voices documenting and scrutinizing the realities of contemporary Saudi Arabia and its position and influence in urgent global narratives of faith, environment, socioeconomics and geopolitics.

Elena Scarpa: Your first works such as the Illuminations series and Evolution of Man were strongly influenced by your background as a doctor? Are the new works also still influenced by your previous occupation?

Ahmed Mater: I worked as a community doctor, which meant I had a responsibility for a range of conditions, patients, a need to be observant in many situations. I don’t like to draw too tight a comparison as the professions and their processes are of course vastly different, but I really believe a lot of my outlook was honed through that training and experience. Both of the professions are shaped by the same urge to observe, monitor, analyse and synthesise symptoms and their causes (whether social or physical) – that’s what motivated me then and it’s what motivates me today.

Of course, works like Evolution of Man and Illuminations have medicine folded into them, through the use of x-rays, and their subject matter. But this wasn’t just a case of tentatively experimenting with the materials I had at hand when working as a doctor – I think x-rays are astonishing, for me they’ve always been something more than scientific or medical. Looking at an x-ray of your own chest is a fantastically provocative and unnerving experience. That’s what these works are about in some ways – trying to get at the essence of that feeling. I was trying to resolve tension between different systems of knowledge – between science and religion, the apparently objective and the subjective, between faith and physical realities, or, as in Evolution of Man, the individual and the environment – it’s about a social condition and an individual experience of that. Like so much of my thinking and my work, I am looking at vying systems, the binaries that shape and channel our lives, I think the stark x-ray exposure expresses that visually.

So, I guess it’s a case of preoccupation, not occupation.  Which is to say, instead of viewing my work as being influenced by my time as a doctor, it is probably more accurate to say my way of approaching the world led me first to my profession as a doctor, and then shaped my artistic outlook. My urge is always to gather information and to analyse, to consider the things which shape our current human condition – whether social, physical, faith-based, environmental – it’s a perspective that informs my life and, in turn, the thinking behind all of my work.

ES: The exhibition at Galleria Continua analyses the development of Makkah as a symbol of faith-based economies, why do you think Islam’s Holy City can be a symbol to study new cities around the world?

AM: I’ve spent a lot of time studying, absorbing and documenting Makkah. Relatively, it is experienced by so few, and it buckles under the weight of its own symbolism – it is both a real city and a symbolic city. More than being a symbol to study new cities around the world, Makkah itself exists in the realm of the symbolic, it is a symbol. It is also a prism through which we can consider urban and social concerns of the 21st century.

There is an interesting contrast between what it is to Muslims and how it is perceived by an outsider – there’s a very deep and intense symbolism for both. However, it is a city like any other, with all the same issues of any other urban environment. This intensity makes it a powerful lens through which we can observe the conflation of what I see as systems of power – urbanisation, religion, the commercial – they’re all here, jostling, their clashing is fraught and their vying is literally reshaping the fabric of the place. ‘Desert of Pharan’ in particular maps the tension between public and private space in 21st century urban environments. This is ostensibly motivated by the demands of the hajj, but is also bound with commercial concerns and those of faith economies. I see these as being prevalent the world over. On the one hand, as populations boom, as space becomes a premium, the question of ‘who profits?’ is begged – how can the privitisation of our urban environments be reconciled with sustainable, equitable living? On the other hand, so called ‘faith economies’ wield immense, often unacknowledged, power. A 2016 report found faith to be worth $1.2 trillion annually to the American purse – more than the combined revenues of the 10 biggest tech firms.

In many parts of the world today, I think there’s an assumption made that we are ever-more secularised and that the control religion once exercised has been reduced immeasurably. I think this tide will be reversed in the 21st century – as populations shift, as we become more globalised, the might of ‘religious structures’ (which I view very differently from faith or spirituality) will be felt in our urban environments once more. Makkah is an intensification of these ideas and an important lens through which we can consider what these shifts mean.

ES: Evolution of Man was on display at Standing Rock; do you see any parallelism between the battle to stop the Dakota Pipeline and the impact of the oil industry in Saudi Arabia?

AM: The oil industry is not local. We might like to narrow the environment into localities, into timeframes, but we cannot afford that mentality anymore. The fight of the Sioux Indians in Dakota is both specific and universal; the impact of a crippling addition to oil in the Middle East had and has very specific micro economic and social impacts, but, ultimately the macro effects decimate the whole world. Back in 2010 when I first made Evolution of Man, the chiasmus (the mirroring or criss-crossing seen in the work), was mimicking a destructive cycle that I observed around me – but there was still possibility to read it back and forth, to mutate, to change the narrative. As the Paris accord disintegrates, as lands are scared by pipelines, or as we see the effects play out in the obliteration of people’s homes from India to the Caribbean, my fear is that, very soon, we won’t have the option to shift the narrative, to change the perspective – soon, it may be a one-way road we are all walking down. Whether you’re in North Dakota or in the oil fields of Dhahran, this is not parallelism, this is one story now.

ES: This show, Mitochondria: Powerhouses, was conceived specifically for Galleria Continua’s spaces; how did your collaboration with the gallery start?

AM: The collaboration began with a friendship – Mario has visited Saudi a number of times and we first met there through mutual friends. The relationship with Continua grew when Antony Gormley visited Jeddah in 2014, during 21,39 – we gave a talk together on ‘Sculpture and the Collective Imagination’. It’s a subject that’s really essential to me and my thinking – I believe intensely in the possibilities of art for the public consciousness, the important, productive conversations that can coalesce around works when they are made accessible to a broad audience, when they are able to intervene in an open and clear way for everyone, not just art experts or the “art educated”. Of course, I admire Gormley’s work deeply for its capacity to intensely move a wide audience. It sidesteps the concerning barriers around some art presentation, which can prevent audiences from feeling engaged, as if it isn’t addressed to them. Anyone who encounters his work whether on a beach, on a rooftop in an urban environment, or in a gallery setting is startled and arrested by the encounter, it speaks to them on a level that is pre- or non-academic (though, of course, it is the product of profoundly studied and deep outlook). That talk and meeting really spurred further dialogue between me and Mario; I see the gallery at San Gimignano as a testament to his belief in art presentation beyond the commercial – he is bold, the space itself so unconventional. As soon as he invited me to have an exhibition there, conceptual possibilities opened up for me. I knew I had an opportunity to present work that would not easily exist or be ‘contained’ within a normal white cube space.

Of course, there’s great theatre to the stage in San Gimignano and the work had to play to that, but there are more subtle possibilities too: the multiple levels of the gallery, with the mezzanine and the huge hall, the ability to draw parallels between bodies of work through these unusual sightlines. The procession of the rooms and smaller spaces, how that allows the story of the exhibition to unfurl. It was such a privilege to collaborate with the gallery, and important to me that mutual respect and shared interests lead to a friendship, which in turn helped realised this show.

In terms of its presentation in Italy – faith economies are an important idea in the show, and there are interesting parallels between Italy and Saudi Arabia in that way – to develop my thinking in this area and to present it here, to a public that has something of a shared context in terms of the massive weight of religious history and power, in a gallery as innovative and open to exploration and experimentation as Continua, was amazing.

Elena Scarpa

  • Ahmed Mater, Desert of Pharan - Unofficial Histories behind the Mass Expansion of Makkah, 2011-in progress. Ahmed Mater, Desert of Pharan - Unofficial Histories behind the Mass Expansion of Makkah, 2011-in progress.
  • Ahmed Mater, Desert of Pharan - Unofficial Histories behind the Mass Expansion of Makkah, 2011-in progress. Ahmed Mater, Desert of Pharan - Unofficial Histories behind the Mass Expansion of Makkah, 2011-in progress.
  • Ahmed Mater, Mitochondria: Powerhouses Exhibition view at Galleria Continua / San Gimignano, 2017 Ahmed Mater, Mitochondria: Powerhouses Exhibition view at Galleria Continua / San Gimignano, 2017
  • Ahmed Mater, Magnetism, 2017 Ahmed Mater, Magnetism, 2017
  • Ahmed Mater, Evolution of Man, 2010 Ahmed Mater, Evolution of Man, 2010
Paris - Interviews

Camille Henrot Interviewed by Daria de Beauvais

1 month ago

This year, Palais de Tokyo has given “Carte Blanche” to French-born artist Camille Henrot, whose exhibition entitled “Days are Dogs” is opening on October 18, 2017, coinciding with Fiac Art Week. On this occasion, she is guest editor-in-chief of Palais Magazine #26, devoted entirely to her project and including an interview by Daria de Beauvais, curator of the show.

Daria de Beauvais: Can you tell me about the origin of the title you’ve chosen for your carte blanche at the Palais de Tokyo, “Days Are Dogs”?

Camille Henrot: The exhibition deals with problems of everyday life, particularly our relationship to dependency. The title comes from the expression in English for a difficult, tiring day, a “dog day.” I’m interested in the social and political relationships the word “dog connotes in expressions like “a dog’s life,” “dogsbody,”1 “work like a dog,” “underdog” (one of the drawings in the Bad Dad series is directly inspired by this expression). The dog is a familiar sign. It’s a sign of what connects us but also a sign of alienation, difficulty, frustration. Dogs are always hungry… They’re pretty much everywhere. The dog is a banal, repeated index of our own attachment, our own dependency. Dependency gives shape to our lives, like night and day. The dog suffers what comes to him, he gives himself up to fate, a bit like Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses, who gives himself over to the vagaries of his day with a sort of passivity. The stock character of my exhibition is pretty passive. But this submission is also a kind of freedom. In the end, the submission of the dog is feigned, it’s opportunistic, sometimes affectionate or playful. It can also be a friendly sign of the possibility for adapting to everyday life, to life’s flow. So the title of the exhibition is there underlying an attachment to life, despite its problems or difficulties.

DB: Your project for the carte blanche is divided into seven distinct parts, corresponding to the days of the week. Why this narrative choice?

CH: The week presides over the most personal aspects of a life: the frequency at which you work or rest, at which you meet the needs of social life as well as your own health. The week was a way to approach everything that structures human life: work and sleep, diet, dependencies, religion, e-mails, family, money… As Joyce says in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, it’s a question of “transmuting the daily bread of experience into the radiant body of everliving life.” On top of all this, as an arbitrary narrative structure, the week has taken on a different importance with the spread of social media. Unlike the months, which are based on the lunar cycle, the days of the week are a completely artificial and also colonising structure: first universally applied as the structure of work, then, with the Internet, it gives everyone the feeling of living at the same emotional rhythm… like a horoscope. Most people have forgotten that Monday comes from the moon, Tuesday from Mars, Wednesday from Mercury, Thursday from Jupiter, and Friday from Venus.2 But this mythological content is unconsciously present in the emotions that are attached to these days and it reemerges in the way people label the moments of their life on the internet. What does the hashtag #Monday mean? A state of laziness, a refusal of obligations… Digital culture is creating a relationship to time that, even as it is shared on a much greater scale, is also more subjective. The days of the week no longer evoke the organisation of our duties as much as an introspective diary of our moods. The organisation of the exhibition in this way is also a means to escape the obligations of structure through the apparent submission to an order so arbitrary that it becomes playful. This is how Roland Barthes justified the recourse to alphabetical order for his seminar, Comment vivre ensemble. The more artificial, banal, and well-known the structure, the more freedom can be found in it. It’s a narrative strategy. The narrative of an exhibition shouldn’t be at all imposing on the visitor. It should circulate in a subterranean way, just under the surface, sotto voce. In the work The Pale Fox (2014- 2015), which is placed near the beginning of the exhibition, there is a piling up of principles, creating a sort of hyper-structure. Obeying rules “to the letter” is also a way of disobeying.

DB: You’ve defined the exhibition as a “collection of affects,” but also as a private space. What do you mean by this?

CH: I was interested in making the Palais de Tokyo into a familiar space, creating a space that would be less of a public agora and more of a place where reflexion and intimacy are made possible. My work makes use of emotions, it aims at a quite meditative kind of intro spection or reflection and you need protected environments for that. I rarely make big spectacles, except maybe with my films, but all films are already an interior spectacle, they come at you like in a dream and linger in your memory like an experience, with all the gaps this implies, and the chances you have to remember, to ruminate afterwards on what happened.

Find the all interview on Magazine PALAIS #26.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Camille Henrot, Splendid Isolation, 2015, resin cast with video and telephone components, 14 3/8 x 19 3/8 x 2 1/4 inches (36.5 x 49.2 x 5.7 cm) phone, 35 3/8 x 19 3/8 x 2 1/4 inches (89.9 x 49.2 x 5.7 cm) overall, courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures (New York); kamel mennour (Paris/London); König Galerie (Berlin). © ADAGP, Paris 2017 Camille Henrot, Splendid Isolation, 2015, resin cast with video and telephone components, 14 3/8 x 19 3/8 x 2 1/4 inches (36.5 x 49.2 x 5.7 cm) phone, 35 3/8 x 19 3/8 x 2 1/4 inches (89.9 x 49.2 x 5.7 cm) overall, courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures (New York); kamel mennour (Paris/London); König Galerie (Berlin). © ADAGP, Paris 2017
  • Camille Henrot, Is he cheating, resin cast with video and telephone component, 37 7/8 x 9 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches (96.2 x 24.1 x 8.3 cm), courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures (New York); kamel mennour (Paris/London); König Galerie (Berlin), © ADAGP, Paris 2017. Camille Henrot, Is he cheating, resin cast with video and telephone component, 37 7/8 x 9 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches (96.2 x 24.1 x 8.3 cm), courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures (New York); kamel mennour (Paris/London); König Galerie (Berlin), © ADAGP, Paris 2017.Camille Henrot, Is he cheating, resin cast with video and telephone component, 37 7/8 x 9 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches (96.2 x 24.1 x 8.3 cm), courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures (New York); kamel mennour (Paris/London); König Galerie (Berlin), © ADAGP, Paris 2017.
  • Camille Henrot, vue de l’exposition The Pale Fox, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, 2014-2015, Commandée et produite par Chisenhale Gallery en partenariat avec Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhague; Bétonsalon – Centre d’art et de recherche, Paris et Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, photo : Thorsten Arendt, courtesy de l’artiste et de kamel mennour (Paris/Londres) ; König Galerie(Berlin) ; Metro Pictures (New York). © ADAGP, Paris 2017 Camille Henrot, vue de l’exposition The Pale Fox, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, 2014-2015, Commandée et produite par Chisenhale Gallery en partenariat avec Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhague; Bétonsalon – Centre d’art et de recherche, Paris et Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, photo : Thorsten Arendt, courtesy de l’artiste et de kamel mennour (Paris/Londres) ; König Galerie(Berlin) ; Metro Pictures (New York). © ADAGP, Paris 2017
London - Interviews

When Food Turns to Art: an Interview with Jorge Menna Barreto

1 month ago

On the occasion of Frieze Week opening, Fundaçao Bienal de Sao Paulo in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery presented “Restauro” an environmental installation which discusses art and nutrition by the Brazilian artist and researcher Jorge Menna Barreto. The aim is to raise environmental questions and taking the audience into a sensorial experience.

During the day-event the artist developed a program including the tasting of wild edibles as a site-specific food, provoking the reconnection of the human body to the wilderness and the landscape around us.

Carla Ingrasciotta: How was the idea of Restauro born?

Jorge Menna Barreto: It came up during a the research I was doing as a post-doctoral fellow at the State University of Santa Catarina in 2014, when I investigated possible relations between art and agroecology. The concept that united those two areas was site-specificity, which has been in the center of my practice as an artist for more than 20 years now.

C.I.: “Restauro” encourages awareness about how we use our land and the consequences of our choices globally.
What about the event at the Serpentine gallery. What was the reaction of the public?

J.M.B.: “Restauro” is an ongoing research of around 4 years now and it has had different moments when it becomes public. Two of these moments happened at the Serpentine Galleries: one was the public event on the 30th of September, called “Londelion”, which took place at the pavilion; and the other one was Restauro dinner, which was at Zaha Hadid’s restaurant building by the Serpentine Sackler. Both appearances are deeply interconnected, even though they are quite different in terms of format: one was a workshop and the other was more like a dinner party. The one thing that links them is how they address the public, relating food and environment. The idea in both situations is to connect people to land and territory through their digestive systems. In the first case, by eating a plant that grows spontenously in the place we were, Hyde Park; and in the second, by eating produce that is local to London and region. Both suggest food is one of the most important ways to relate to place and landscape. The public in both events was quite receptive to the ideas and to the plant based recipes we served, which was really nice.

C.I.: In a statement you said “Human civilisation has replaced foraging for supermarketing and, with it, has lost its sense of place and belongingness”. Could you tell us more about this concept and how do you translate your perspective on this theme in your art?

J.M.B.: For millions of years we have eaten what grows around us. In that sense, food has also played and important role on how we relate to environment and landscape. The plants we ate responded to the same weather, microbes, soil and conditions in which we lived, thus creating an immediate link between food, land and our bodies. Our intestines may be one of the main interfaces in our relationship to space. If you were to flatten out our guts and all its folds, we would have a surface that is the size of a football field. That is much more than our skin or our lungs together, in terms of area. That attests that our intestines, event though engaged in a relationship which is not visible to our eyes, might “very well be our primary interface with the outside world” (Dr. Michael Greger). Now imagine living in London and eating kiwi that comes from New Zealand. How do our bodies relate to that? What are they able to read? Food is deeply ingrained with information from the soil. It is almost as if that food that travelled so far spoke a different language, or a completelly different alphabet. The feeling of being a foreigner, or displaced, could very well be a result of eating food that was grown elsewhere. On top of that, we can also add the environmental damage of transporting food from so far away. The funny thing is that food that grows sponteneously around us, such as wild edibles, have become invisible and is not even considered food, like dandelions. I don’t consider what I do art, in terms of having an artistic DNA per se. I understand I approach certain issues or aspects of society through art, using concepts and theories that are from the art field. That enables you to approach my work through different areas, such as ecology, nutrition, economy or geography. The plasticity in my work is in the way you look at it. Its artistic catch is in how you read it. I like, for example, to think of Restauro as an environmental sculpture, referencing Beuys social sculpture and Helio Oiticica’s environmental program, artists I feed from when thinking about art in the expanded fiel.

C.I.: Which were the main challenges or difficulties you found in presenting the same project in two different realties like Sao Paulo and London?

J.M.B.: There were some production challenges, but in general we found more similarities than differences in those contexts. First, the food industry is international nowadays, so the problems we have in Brazil concerning the complexity of food and environmental impact is something the English have also been concerned about. One thing that was really nice to look into was British artists who have a strong relationship to landscape: Constable, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Richard Long, Anthony Gormley…these examples show how British art has a strong connection to place, so that also created a fertile ground for me to plant my project. Another interesting thing was how similar we found organic farmers to be in Brazil and in England. The ethical relationship to land is something they share, and from that comes abundance and generosity. It is quite interesting how that made me feel at home when visiting those farms.

C.I.:  Are you working on any upcoming project we could look forward to see?

J.M.B.: My challenge at the moment is to think of how “Restauro” can be translated into a book. There is vast discursive material to be shared, but the formats which we have been using up to now are more experiential, addressed to the body. As “Restauro” sprouted from an academic research, there is also a lot to say in terms of texts and images that have not yet been shown, and I think the format of a book would be ideal to do that. The challenge, though, is to think of a book that not only is a support for our thoughts, but that is an extension of the project, almost like a non-site of Restauro, to quote Robert Smithson.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Nash Nursery – Indian Corn, Photo credits: Joelson Bugila Nash Nursery – Indian Corn, Photo credits: Joelson Bugila
  • Dagenham Farm – Bug Hotel. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila Dagenham Farm – Bug Hotel. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila
  • Nash Nursery – Candy Stripe Beetroot. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila Nash Nursery – Candy Stripe Beetroot. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila
  • Dagenham Farm – Schools Greenhouse. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila Dagenham Farm – Schools Greenhouse. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila
  • Home Farm, Nacton – Lentils. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila Home Farm, Nacton – Lentils. Photo credits: Joelson Bugila
Turin - Interviews

Drawings Come to Artissima 2017: an Interview with Curators Luís Silva e João Mourão

1 month ago

This year Artissima announced the first edition of “Disegni, a brand new section of the fair entirely dedicated to drawings. On this occasion, Carla Ingrasciotta has interviewed Luís Silva and João Mourão, Co-Directors of Kunsthalle Lissabon in Lisbon and Curators of “Disegni”, to discover more about this new part of the fair, the challenges, news and expectations.

Carla Ingrasciotta: You have been appointed to curate “Disegni” a brand new section of Artissima. Which challenges are you facing and what is your aim?

Luís Silva and João Mourão: We think there are two main challenges in curating the first edition of Disegni. The first one is the fact that it is a new section of Artissima. There is no previous understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in terms of a very specific section. Also, there are no terms of comparison, we can’t expand on what was done by previous curators the same way we can’t react against or change the direction of the section. We got a blank slate and we are the ones actually defining the tone of what Disegni is and can be. That, in itself, is very challenging. A second challenge lies at the heart of the section, its theme, if you will: drawing as a medium. As curators we have always been very interested in thinking critically about established categories, and this is a perfect opportunity to do so. We are interested in going beyond the established notion of drawing as a medium and expanding it towards a more discursive or narrative field. What if drawing is a metaphor? What if drawing is a specific way of engaging with the world? That is a huge challenge, thinking how drawing still is a relevant tool for contemporary artistic speculation.

C.I.: Could you tell us about the selection criteria for the international galleries and artists?

L.S. & J. M.: The process of selection was very straightforward. We wanted solo projects, rather than group presentations, so that the section remains sharp and focused. That was our biggest concern, a clear curatorial vision that is self-evident. We wish that what we are trying to do becomes visible without a lot of complicated explanation. There were direct invitations to galleries that represented a specific artist whose practice we thought resonated with what we wanted to do with the section. And there was also a more traditional application procedure, to which galleries could apply with a specific proposal, and from which we also chose those who fit into our concept for the first edition of Disegni.

C.I.: How important is drawing as a practice in contemporary art?

L.S. & J. M.: In our view, drawing is just as important as any other medium in contemporary art. It has its own specificities, its own idiosyncrasies if you will, and that is where it gets interesting. It has always been perceived as a preparatory medium for other, more noble media, such as painting and sculpture, for instance, but it has gone through a tremendous process of self critique and self exploration, expanding it to a medium in its own right, and that’s what we are trying to show: how diverse it can be, how expanded it can be, how much more complex, nuanced, critical and committed to the world it can be, despite its apparent formal simplicity.

C.I.:  How much of Kunsthalle Lissabon are you bringing to curate the drawing section?

L.S. & J. M.:  Kunstalle Lissabon is an institutional project from which we have been thinking about our relation to institutions, both as individuals and a community. It is fundamentally critical, self-reflexive and speculative. It is a non-for profit endeavor in which the artist and the relationship we establish with them takes center stage. A curated section in an international contemporary art fair functions in a very different way and we need to be aware of the context in which we are working if we want to present something meaningful. Despite these two contexts being very different one informs the other, and they are both part of a complex ecosystem. They need each other in order to survive. We think we bring this understanding to the section.

C.I.: How much do you think collectors are attracted by works on paper?

L.S. & J. M.:  We think it depends on the collectors. Longtime, more experienced collectors are probably as attracted to drawing as to other media. The interesting thing, though, and this is why we think Artissima was brilliant in creating this new section, is that drawing is a great way to bring new people into collecting. If an art fair can produce a new generation of collectors (and that is achieved through a drawing section), then it is a successful art fair. We’re happy to be part of that.

C.I.: Finally, how are you spending your free time in Turin? How do you perceive the city art scene?

L.S. & J. M.: At Artissima, of course! We need to set up, make sure galleries and artists are well taken care of and are happy with what they are presenting and how the fair is going. Once that is achieved we want to experience as much as possible of the cultural landscape of the city, which at the distance seems very impressive, with galleries, museums, collections, etc. We’re sure it is going to be packed! And it is truffle season, on top of everything, so that is also on our to do list!

Save the date: Artissima 2017
3 – 5 November 2017
Oval Lingotto Fiere
Giacomo Mattè Trucco 70, Turin

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Luís Silva and João Mourão Luís Silva and João Mourão
  • Mark Dion, The Misanthropes, 2013. Courtesy In Situ - fabienne leclerc Photo: Raphael Fanelli Mark Dion, The Misanthropes, 2013. Courtesy In Situ - fabienne leclerc Photo: Raphael Fanelli
  • Seb Patane, Jack , 2017. Courtesy Galleria Fonti Napoli Seb Patane, Jack , 2017. Courtesy Galleria Fonti Napoli
London - Interviews

London from an Artist’s Perspective: an Artistic Itinerary by Rebecca Ackroyd

2 months ago

On the occasion of our special digital issue on Frieze and London Art Week, we asked London-based artist Rebecca Ackroyd (b. 1987, Cheltenham, UK) a few questions on her practice and to draw up an artistic itinerary around London.
The artist is currently having her first solo show with Zabludowicz Collection.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Could you tell us about your Zabludowicz Collection exhibition and the creative process behind it?

Rebecca Ackroyd: I was thinking about gardens and the controlled cultivation of a space and how when a root takes hold there’s a lack of control in what the plant becomes; whether it flourishes, perishes or spreads. I wanted the show to have fragments of reality that come together and don’t necessarily make sense, reflecting a layering of identities and ideas that bounce between different locations and histories.

C.I.: Which are your favourite tools of artistic expression? Where do you get inspiration from?

R.A.: I don’t really have a particular set of tools as I tend to move between ways of making depending on the idea. I suppose what drives my work is wanting to articulate or express something through making objects or images and the experience of making something I haven’t seen before and allowing unexpected things to emerge within this process.

C.I.: I was fascinated by your statement: “Sexism needs to be challenged. This attitude that discounts women for not featuring in art history… it’s getting a bit stale”. In the last years, museum and institutions are trying to give female artists more space and opportunity to express themselves: in this sense, I’m thinking about the approach of Tate Modern’s new director Maria Balshaw. What do you think about it? Do you feel involved in this way or there’s still more to do?

R.A.: I think there’s always more to do to ensure that there’s a broad representation of both gender and minorities in galleries and institutions. I agree there have been steps towards this and perhaps it’s better now, but there are still huge disparities.

An Art Itinerary of London by Rebecca Ackroyd

A London art traveler itinerary should start in the West End to explore the galleries in the area and then heading East around Bethnal Green. There are a few cool places where having a lunch break over there: I love St. John, near Smithfield Market in Clerkenwell which is always reliably good, as well as Albion in Shoreditch. If you have lunch at Albion, I’ll suggest to have a visit to a great young gallery called Emalin just around the corner. They have a brilliant programme so definitely worth a visit. The Sir John Soane’s Museum at Lincoln’s Inn Fields near Holborn is incredible. Not to be missed! For a break, since I love swimming, I’ll manage a trip to the ponds in Hampstead Heath on a nice day, or the heated lido in London Fields if the weather is more chilly. In the evening I would have a dinner in one of my favourite places which is Koya bar in Soho: they serve the best udon noodles I’ve had in London. After dinner, I’d probably go to Trisha’s bar for a drink in Soho.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Rebecca Ackroyd Rebecca Ackroyd
  • Rebecca Ackroyd, Slumberer, 2017 (detail) Rebecca Ackroyd, Slumberer, 2017 (detail)
  • Rebecca Ackroyd, Carrier, 2017. Photo by Ben Westoby. Courtesy the artist Rebecca Ackroyd, Carrier, 2017. Photo by Ben Westoby. Courtesy the artist
Turin - Interviews

Artissima 2017: an Interview with Ilaria Bonacossa

2 months ago

Artissima 2017 will be inaugurated on November 2nd. Mara Sartore has interviewed Ilaria Bonacossa, the new Artistic Director, to discover more about this edition and the main concept behind this curatorial art fair.

Mara Sartore: I’d like to know some more about Artissima 2017, besides the news that has already been announced. You stated that Artissima could be a new “Liste”, a fair that brings together international galleries representing young and emerging artists and that can generate a young collectors’ base. Will there be a change in the way the galleries are selected?

Ilaria Bonacossa: There will be a gradual change. The established galleries that have been participating in the fair for years will still be there for this edition, alongside galleries who are working on research and not only those focused on new markets. We’re interested in working with galleries that work with young artists, who aim at promoting new talent and to continue artistic research that goes beyond a merely commercial focus.

M.S.: In Italy the most important art fairs are Artissima, miart and Arte Fiera. In this scenario it seems like each fair is looking for its identity. In your opinion, how can these three entities live together or how much can one of them impose its precedence over the others? Did Artissima take into account other fairs in shaping its identity?

I.B.: Artissima has a unique identity, and it can still be defined as the only truly contemporary art fair in Italy. It was born when miart still didn’t exist while Arte Fiera is a fair for modern art. Artissima focuses entirely on contemporary art. The fact that miart has grown into a modern art fair has made it possible for Artissima to establish itself as a curatorial fair, a space for talent scouting. On the coexistence of fairs: there’s international as well as national competition, given that there are more than 200 fairs around the world and Artissima aims at being international. It’s quite a strong fair and it could be better if the others weren’t there – competition makes each player weaker – but it’s also a mean of survival and coexistence to have a mission and to manage your own identity. It therefore makes sense to have different fairs because each one also reflects the city where it is hosted.

M.S.: What’s the role of the city and of the art week during the fair?

I.B.: The city plays a very important role. Artissima is a public fair, it’s not privately owned, so the brand belongs to the city of Turin and to Piemonte, its region. This relationship cannot be questioned. This is why the fair has a relationship with Turin, a relationship based on the strength of the link that the public sector has created with the private one. I’m talking about the collaborations with banks and foundations that allow dialogue and coordination on a cultural and strategic level. Artissima is Artissima but it’s also the experience in Turin, without its museums the fair wouldn’t be what it is; and this is true for the other fairs as well.

M.S.: What’s the percentage of international visitors to Artissima?

I.B.: It is difficult to map the numbers but the visitors are predominantly local, despite the growth of foreign visitors, mostly from France and Switzerland. The interesting thing is the growing number of foreign collectors and VIPs who make up around 40% of attendees and who are also coming to experience the city.

M.S.: Based on the idea of cultivating a generation of emerging Italian artists and young collectors, are there any specific projects at the fair?

I.B.: There’s a project called Deposito which used to be called Progetto in Mostra. Over the years, Artissima has given space not only to foundations, by promoting their exhibitions with advertising inside the fair, but also by requesting artworks on loan to be shown during the fair in order to promote their excellence.
This year we took our inspiration from 1967, the year that highlighted the presence of Arte Povera in Turin and that marked its artistic identity, despite the show then being held in Genoa. Arte Povera marked the foundation of many of Turin’s institutions from Castello di Rivoli to the Fondazione Sandretto and the Fondazione Merz. With this project we aim to pay homage to those years and we will do it by creating a real storage in which works created since 1994 (Artissima’s birth year) to now are presented, precisely in order to mark the relationship between the fair and Italian art, art that is as good as foreign art but that, commercially speaking, is still struggling.

M.S.: In this sense, I presume that the concept of a digital fair, that you talked about, will make it easier to follow this line of thought.

I.B.: In Italy we are still struggling with digital systems, even though they have become an everyday part of working life. Artworks can be seen online, projects can be started online and we can also sell online. That’s why we’ve been thinking of offering galleries their own digital viewing platform; so that every single gallery can enjoy an up-to-date online space on Artissima’s platform that does so much business and guarantees them a showcase and great visibility.

M.S.: Apart from the announcements that have already been made, such as the presence of the new Drawings and Deposito sections what other news would you like to mention?

I.B.: The Drawings section was created to push galleries that didn’t already participate in this section to present graphic works that they would not have otherwise submitted if they wanted to participate in the main section.

M.S.: Will there be outside projects commissioned by the fair around the city?

I.B.: No, the fair will remain on the fair grounds. We have not considered any external projects because we want to support our customers at the fair. In general, we believe that bringing the fair to the city can be counterproductive and it does not make much sense for us to compete with all the great institutions of the city. The upcoming art season in town has really strong projects such as Anna Boghiguian’s solo show at Castello di Rivoli, the opening of OGR and the shows at Fondazione Sandretto.

Save the date: Artissima 2017
3 – 5 November 2017
Oval Lingotto Fiere
Giacomo Mattè Trucco 70, Turin

Mara Sartore

  • Ilaria Bonacossa © Silvia Pastore Ilaria Bonacossa © Silvia Pastore
  • 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, Internazionale d’arte contemporanea, Torino, 2016 © Perottino-Alfero-Tardito/ Artissima 2016 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, Internazionale d’arte contemporanea, Torino, 2016 © Perottino-Alfero-Tardito/ Artissima 2016