Basel - Interviews

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

2 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mara Sartore

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

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

2 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carla Ingrasciotta

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

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

3 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Art Guides Editorial Team

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

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

3 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mara Sartore

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

“Acting Regional to Get International”: an Interview with Magnus Renfrew on Taipei Dangdai

1 month ago

A new international art fair, Taipei Dangdai will open in Taipei in January 2019. The inaugural edition of the fair will bring together 80 exhibitors from Asia as well as strong selection of leading galleries from outside the region that have shown a continued commitment to showcasing their programs on the continent.

On the occasion I’ve interviewed fair director Magnus Renfrew, to learn more about this world-class art event, which aims to provide exhibitors the opportunity to broaden their collector base and giving international exposure to a growing number of artists and galleries from across Asia. The inaugural edition of Taipei Dangdai will be held at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, and is presented by UBS.

Mara Sartore: I would like to start from your background. You directed Art Hong Kong before it was acquired by Art Basel and you have been the director of ABHK from 2012 to 2014. So from an HK perspective what has driven you to explore Taipei as a new art fair destination?

Magnus Renfrew: I really felt that the scene and the fair in HK has developed to a very high level and there’s no doubt that ABHK is the global art fair for Asia but I think there’s now the room for other art fairs to develop within the region. Look at the situation in Europe for example, it’s not just Art Basel, there’s Frieze, Fiac, Art Brussel, Cologne and Dusseldorf and so on. The scale of the potential market is substantial and I think that the offerings that there are currently in different parts of Asia, don’t necessarily satisfy the needs of the local audience both in terms of potential exhibitors and indeed collectors; so there was an opportunity there to try to create something that steps up the level of quality.

MS: I see, I’d like to understand a bit better since, as you know, MCH has been acquiring other regional fairs like Art India so I was wondering in this global art market where more and more collections, as – in the words of Johan Jervøe, Head of Marketing of UBS-  will look more global. Does local market actually exist? Will the Taipei fair have a special look into the regional galleries and artists or do you think that it’s a matter of bringing western galleries to Taipei and Taiwan? How do you envision this?

MR: Sometimes regional is perceived to be second-best, as in local, regional versus international, and that’s how people think of things. But for me regional is international, I think that people have a misunderstanding of what international means. International very much gets interpreted with a Western, European or American aesthetic. I think there’s a need right now to be more representative of what’s going on in other parts of the world. Global really needs to incorporate more of a sophisticated understanding of cultural context from outside of Europe and America so our desire is really to be regional on purpose. We want to be regional we don’t see it as a second best, we see it as a point of difference and a point of interest. The vast majority of galleries that we will have in the fair will come from Asia, indeed we will have a commitment to Asia so there are a number of galleries that are very active in the region and galleries from the west that are very active in the region as well. We want to have a strong focus on the region but, at the same time, it is important for us to get the balance right; some of the domestic collectors within any given context want to feel that there’s a difference with other offerings, they want to see a strong line up of international galleries which means galleries outside of their own domestic setting. That internationalism includes galleries from Asia but also galleries from the West. We are getting a strong interest from Western galleries who have a long established relation with the region.

MS: I would like you to tell us a bit more about your partnership with UBS. I’ve interviewed Johan Jervøe and I asked him the same question. How was the partnership with them born?

MR: I’ve been working on this project already for a year and a half, I first approached UBS, with whom I have a strong relationship since when I tried to persuade them to sponsor Art Hong Kong in 2009 (which didn’t work at that time). They’ve been following the progress of the fairs in Hong Kong and they were pleased to be involved when it became ABHK. It was quite natural for me to tell them about what I was trying to put together and the potential in Taiwan. Already from an early stage they were really receptive, we both agreed that we were serious about partnering up and we set the deadline to try to get things together in order to announce a partnership. I’ve been speaking to a lot of people, potential exhibitors, gallerists and collectors over the last year so there’s already a lot of speculation in the market about our activities but for us to go out there and to announce UBS as lead/presenting partner was something that will really speed up our progress now, so it has been something that was brilliant to secure their involvement so early on. It’s quite unusual for a fair to be announced from its inception with a sponsor like UBS.

MS: The fair will coincide with the Taipei Biennial. Are you collaborating with the Biennial as well as with museums and institutions in town? Are you trying to create an art week to attract a broader public?

MR: It’s still very early days for us. The first part of a fair’s cycle is to persuade the galleries to come and the second part of the cycle switches to marketing, vip programming and vip attendance. I’ve had early meetings with the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, who organize the Biennial and they have been very very open and receptive; we haven’t spoken formally about how we might be able to collaborate, but one of the things that I think is quite fortuitous in terms of timing is that rather than the fair coinciding with the opening of the Biennial (where sometimes I think that when fairs coincide with opening of biennials it feels like one is riding on the tail of the other’s marketing campaign), the fair coincides with the end of the biennial. My hope is that we can reactivate and energize their activities as well. I hope it will be very constructive in that sense.

MS: This brings us to my last question which is about the current art scene in Taipei. How’s the current art scene there, are there many galleries, how do you think the fair will change the city art scene?

MR: If you speak to most exhibitors at ABHK or to galleries that have a strong relationship with Asia, they almost without exception will talk about the strength of collectors from Taiwan and their sophistication. Taiwan has a very established collector base, a very established gallery scene, there are some really high quality galleries there. There are around 140 galleries in total which gives you a sense of the scale of the market that is required to sustain that number of galleries, but one of the things that I was really surprised about was that after my departure from Art Basel and during my time with the auction house Bonhamns (which spent a lot of time in Taiwan), I was frequently coming across collectors at auctions who I had never met before in the gallery context. So I guess that one of the things that is not really understood in the international scene is the importance of Taiwanese collectors, their activity in the auction market: they are one of the key constituencies in the region for sourcing consignments for auctions. There’s a really established history of collecting, not only related to contemporary art. Collecting is in the DNA of the audience there so I think there’s a real potential.

Mara Sartore

  • L-R Dennis Chen, Country Head and Head of Wealth Management, UBS Taiwan, and Magnus Renfrew, Co-Founder and Director of Taipei Dangdai. Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai L-R Dennis Chen, Country Head and Head of Wealth Management, UBS Taiwan, and Magnus Renfrew, Co-Founder and Director of Taipei Dangdai. Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai
  • Magnus Renfrew, Co-Founder and Director of Taipei Dangdai. Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai Magnus Renfrew, Co-Founder and Director of Taipei Dangdai. Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai
  • (Left to right): Dennis Chen, country head and head of wealth management, UBS Taiwan; Leslie Sun, collector and member of the Taipei Dangdai advisory group; Rudy Tseng, collector and member of advisory group; Magnus Renfrew, fair director of Taipei Dangdai; Patrick Sun, collector and member of advisory group; and Jason Chi, collector and member of advisory group. Courtesy Taipei Dangdai. (Left to right): Dennis Chen, country head and head of wealth management, UBS Taiwan; Leslie Sun, collector and member of the Taipei Dangdai advisory group; Rudy Tseng, collector and member of advisory group; Magnus Renfrew, fair director of Taipei Dangdai; Patrick Sun, collector and member of advisory group; and Jason Chi, collector and member of advisory group. Courtesy Taipei Dangdai.
  • Magnus Renfew, Fair Director. Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai. Magnus Renfew, Fair Director. Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.
Milan - Interviews

Please, Jump on it!: an Interview with Jeremy Deller and Massimiliano Gioni

2 months ago

During the somewhat soggy opening of Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege, a bouncy-castle Stonehenge, at CityLife sculpture park in Milan, we interviewed both the British artist and curator Massimiliano Gioni to find out more about the installation and the collaboration with Fondazione Trussardi. 

The installation will be erect until Sunday, April 15th.

With Sacrilege, Deller brings to the heart of  Milan a life-size inflatable reconstruction of the archeological site of Stonehenge – an icon of British culture and heritage, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.

Deller believes in the devaluation of artistic ego through the involvement of other people in the creative process and this gentle approach of his was evident throughout our interview with him as he hastily encouraged all passers; the young, the old, two legs or four to get involved, jump and play on the inflatable.

Meeting the artist: a rainy interview with Jeremy Deller

Lara Morrell: Well in true British style let’s start by talking about the weather, how perfectly apt it is? (It has been pouring with rain in Milan for the last few days)

Jeremy Deller: I know, brilliant isn’t it?! I’m soaking and we’ve spent the whole morning mopping and trying to empty the thing of water, you should jump on and have a go! (Jeremy interrupts our talk to usher a passerby and her dog onto the inflatable Stonehenge). Sorry, but the whole point is that people interact and play on it, thats what its all about, for people to enjoy it. 

L.M.: Could you tell us a little about the title – why Sacrilege? Is it perhaps a way of covering your back?

J.D.: Perhaps yes, but that’s what I called it back in 2012 and that’s how it stayed, people seem to like it. At the time I thought people may think turning a pre-historic site in to a bouncy castle sacrilege, so to ward off any criticism I called it just that.

L.M.:  ‘A week or so ago you handed out posters to commuters in stations in London and Liverpool with instructions on how to delete their Facebook profiles. Now in the light of yesterday’s Mark Zuckerburg hearing could you tell us some more about this intervention?

J.D.: Back in January I made a red t-shirt with a six step instruction on how to delete your Facebook account for an opening party at Kettle’s Yard, this was before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, then in its wake I was commissioned by the Rapid Response Unit News to make posters, they were printed on pink paper and handed out in Liverpool and London and also on the walls of the Facebook’s London headquarters.

The Rapid Response Unit is a Liverpool based cultural experiment which encourages artist to respond creatively to global events, believing in public engagement and free distribution.

L.M.: My Art Guides is based in Venice, you represented Britain in the British Pavilion for the Biennale in 2013 with English Magic, how has your vision of Britain and it’s ever weirder status changed since then, regarding Brexit for example? What was your experience of Venice like?

J.D.: Wow, that’s a big question and I need more time to think about it, but the show would be a lot different today, the country is ever more divided and bizarre. However in one of the rooms in the pavilion there is a reference to our relationship to Russia, with William Morris throwing a luxury yacht belonging to Roman Abramovich into the Venetian lagoon. I had a great time in Venice and the show was a great success, people reacted really well to it.

L.M.: On the topic of Brexit have you heard about the Brexiters proposal for the ‘Museum of Sovereignty’  a museum of Brexit leading to galleries displaying a selection of your old school friend Nigel Farage’s tweed jackets.

J.D.: No I haven’t heard about it, but I think its a brilliant idea, it will demonstrate just how absurd they all are!


From the curator’s perspective: a few questions for Massimiliano Gioni

Lara Morrell: How did the collaboration with Jeremy come about? When did you two start working together?

Massimiliano Gioni: Jeremy and I go back a long way, we started working together for the first time in 2004 in San Sebastian when he organised one of his first parades and then we collaborated in 2006 at the Berlin biennale and in 2009 at New Museum. We met again at the Venice Biennale in 2013 where he was not in the international show but in the British pavilion which was even greater, its a friendship and long-lasting collaboration and we wanted to bring the piece to Milan since he installing it in Glasgow and London. It took some time to make it happen on a practical level because the city has strict regulations that prohibit the erection of any sort of structure in public green spaces. So we finally found a way to do it because this park technically doesn’t belong to the city yet as it’s in transition between private ownership (those who built CityLife) and the city. So it was because of this transition period it was possible to have access, it’s a technicality but it also demonstrates the patience Jeremy has when realising a project and it worked out well as its a strange and interesting context and it happens to be near miart.

L.M.: Why this specifically this piece of his? Is there any kind of underling message to the piece in this context?

MG: I don’t even know if he had this in mind in 2012, but certainly this piece sadly becomes more relevant today when certain ideas of nationalism and populism appropriate these types of symbols with xenophobic or nationalistic messages, that was what I read in his piece but I don’t know if this was what he had in mind. In Italy this type of imagery is very much associated with the myth of origins, which are regarded with suspicion, even in England as well. We had this occasion to work together in Milan and we took it and we’ll most probably work together again in the future. Typically with the foundation during Miart we hold smaller projects like this, not it terms of scale, but smaller in ambition, one-off unique projects.

L.M: Any Milan highlights to suggest for the visitors of Milan Art Week?

M.G: This is the kind of thing you do not want to disclose to the press! Ok, let me think…This is not meant to be self serving but what I do love about the Trussardi Foundation is that in a sense it has become a compass for the hidden history of the city tracing the different places where we have held exhibitions, for example two years ago in an abandoned art deco public bath near Porta Venezia we held a show by Sarah Lucas, Albergo Diurno – that’s a really amazing space but can be accessed during special openings only ( currently it is closed).

Lara Morrell

  • Jeremy Deller at the opening of Sacrilege, City Life Park Jeremy Deller at the opening of Sacrilege, City Life Park
  • Sacrilege, Installation views, City Life Park Sacrilege, Installation views, City Life Park
  • Beatrice Trussardi, Jeremy Deller and Massimiliano Gioni Beatrice Trussardi, Jeremy Deller and Massimiliano Gioni
  • Jeremy Deller Jeremy Deller
Milan - Interviews

“The Feeling of Things”: an Interview with Matt Mullican

2 months ago

Pirelli HangarBicocca presents a spectacular exhibition of over 40 years of work by Matt Mullican. Curated by Roberta Tenconi, the exhibition occupies a 5500 metres square space, presenting the artist’s prolific production in a variety of different materials including glass, stone, metal, posters, neons, photographs, paintings, videos, performances, lightboxes and computer-based projects as well as virtual reality and a large selection of iconography.

The exhibition takes us on a journey through the space and the artists’ five worlds which are split into five areas of different colours which represent the iconic cosmologies of the artist. We’ve interviewed Matt Mullican at the preview of his exhibition to talk about “The Feeling of Things“, about Glass and about his old friend Glenn..

Lara Morrell: May I firstly congratulate you on this colossal and cosmic exhibition, from what I gather this is your first major retrospective in Italy, what has it been like putting all your work together and seeing it here in a space such as Hangar Bicocca?

Matt Mullican: It is a responsibility to have a space like this, it is not an easy thing but I had lots of time and that was the key, its a space with such a tremendous ego, from a point of view which is undeniable. I didn’t want to make it into theatre which is one of the devices which other artists have used in order to to handle it. I wanted the whole thing lit and deal with it in its own terms and use it for what it can do, which for me by itself is spectacular. We always had a enough time to actually do what we wanted and the staff here have been tremendous. Everything was perfect but I have to say it was like dressing a whale, it is complicated and a chore. I have in actual fact done many retrospectives but not one in which I could build the actual museum itself, I used the low walls to create the vista. Like that scene from Citizen Kane with all the crates, you know what I mean? That shot is a feeling and gives you the scale and thats what gets you feeling. People go to the Gran Canyon not to see it but to feel it, when you see it you breath goes away and thats what this space is. You feel the scale, its so huge.

L.M.: Seeing all you work from the last 45 years together in this way, has it helped you in your quest to explain and order the world around you?

M.M.: You know the quest for what I am deciphering, what ever it is I am deciphering, I am smart enough to know that I am not going to get there and I knew this a while ago. The pieces that I guarantee that will be in shows are the pieces from 45 years ago. The pinching a dead mans arm, and the birth to death list both from 1973 are works that I can show forever, then of course there’s the hypnosis, The Meaning of Things which is the most important recent work I have done and the most important pieces are still seldom, they don’t happen all the time and I am really excited when I am onto one. I think the most important thing about this shows are the walls and the structure. Actually seeing the work here, it became my studio space, my studio is wherever I am and this is the best studio I have ever had. It lights the work up in such a particular way, I learned from the work. I got vertigo from looking up at my pictures at this scale, I have never seen them like this before.

L.M: May I ask you a more pernickety question? Our studio is based in Venice, I’ve noticed a prominence in the use of glass throughout the exhibition, what is it about glass? What does this material represent for you?

M.M: I love glass, glass has a perfection about it, it reflects us, you see through it also solid and its old and its been around for a long time. I like working through materials, I’ve worked in granite, glass, stain glass, tapestry, many different material and I am really interested in how those materials are read. There are artists in materials. In the early 80s I made the decision to go through the crafts, because I was interested in the context of the sign and I had done posters and flags and all that and then I wanted to go onto the crafts.

L.M.: Where did you blow the glass, in Murano?

M.M.: No unfortunately not, the first blown glass pieces were done in New York, where I was living at the time and in Germany and Austria. Glass has a huge place in my work, as you can see, I just love its perfection, its transparence. It plays a huge role in this exhibition and perhaps its one of the factors which makes it so perfect, although its not, at least we have an element which represents it, we feel that representation and thats again what I was interested in, when you see the sign in these different areas, and different materials and you change the sign, you change the adjectives, the adjectives are feelings and the feeling of things is vital. I’ve broken the world down into feelings not senses. What is the sense of the body? Its physicality? There is a sense, what is that? I think its mental, its the feeling of presence, its the sixth sense, the feeling of your physical body. This is the next thing I am interested in because our feeling is the nervous system, this is something I am really interested in. I am alway gravitated towards the most fun!

L.M.: On from glass to your old friend Glenn, could you tell me more about him and how he is getting on?

M.M: Glenn is the stick figure, I gave him a name to give him the image of identity like Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny so I could have a relationship with him beyond so it wasn’t just a picture it was actually a person I could have a relationship with, I was interested in the avatar-ishness of him, like a friend from the other side. Glen has a studio where he works, Glenn is there, he is always there.

L.M.: Does he stay the same or does he evolve, grow and change?

M.M.: In his essence he stays the same, in the Meaning of Things, that piece which you absolutely must read at the beginning of the show, in the first corridor on your left, you begin with The Man and His symbols which is Carl Jung and then The Meaning of Things begins, read the text and look at the pictures, thats the most important new piece of all the work and its a killer because Glenn is not Glenn anymore. You’ll see how Glenn functions.

Lara Morrell

  • Matt Mullican. Courtesy of Pirelli HangarBicocca Matt Mullican. Courtesy of Pirelli HangarBicocca
  • Matt Mullican, Matt Mullican, "The Feeling of Things", Exhibition view, Pirelli HangarBicocca, 2018
  • Matt Mullican, Matt Mullican, "The Feeling of Things", Exhibition view, Pirelli HangarBicocca, 2018
  • Matt Mullican, Matt Mullican, "The Feeling of Things", Exhibition view, Pirelli HangarBicocca, 2018
Milan - Interviews

“Conceptual Contraband and the Migration of Art and Ideas”: an Interview with Sara Raza

2 months ago

On the occasion of the presentation of the Guggenheim UBS MAP exhibition at GAM Milano “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise” I had the chance to ask Sara Raza about the conceptual origin of the show.

Mara Sartore: We’re at the last chapter of this UBS journey which started in New York. I would like to start by asking you to tell us a bit more about the concept and the story of the title of the exhibition “But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise”.

Sara Raza: The title is derived from the writing of the German Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin, part of the Frankfurt school and his impact on my own thinking: particularly his story was very pertinent. He was trying to escape Nazi persecution of occupied France and he travelled thought the Pyrenees to Spain, he had a visa for the USA and his intention was to arrive in neutral Portugal and from there he would cross the Atlantic to USA. However when he reached the boarder they told him that all visa would be revoked and everybody would be sent back. He subsequently committed suicide. One of his possessions was a Paul Klee painting of an angel, referred to as the ‘Angel of History’ and about which he writes very poetically. Benjamin refers to it as the angel trying to save mankind but there’s debris piling up and there’s a storm blowing from paradise which doesn’t allow him to move. There was this kind of reckoning between that essay and his life and how it all came together in terms of the project, this is because we’re facing the largest migratory footprint since World War II with the Syrian crisis in Europe, so it was really important for me to bring all this together within this exhibition. It has been also a collection-building exercise and at the same time I had to think about a curatorial project that would leave a mark, a very contemporary one.

MS: During the press conference you said that there are some invisible elements to the naked eye in this exhibition, could you tell us a bit more about the elements you where referring to?

SR: One of the curatorial strategies in this exhibitions was to look at conceptual contraband, and by contraband I mean trading of goods and ideas and particularly the black market. Contraband it’s like an alternative economy and I was interested in some of the strategies the artists employed. You will notice that there’s no provocation in the art works, they’re not provocative for the sake of provocation, but this doesn’t mean that they are not political. Actually they are indeed political, but they’re using several layered meanings that work in the same way a smuggler operates. As smugglers are able to cross borders, to go from country to country, without necessarily ever being caught or questioned, I think that’s what I was interested in when I was thinking about hidden meaning and providing value to some of those ideas that go unnoticed.

MS: I’ve noticed that not all the artists included in the exhibition come from what we conventionally think as the Middle East, for example there is Lida Abdul who was born in Afganistan and lives between Los Angeles and Kabul.

SR: Middle East is a construct. For 400 years before colonialism and the Ottoman Empire it existed as a constellation of cities and people were moving, but after the Ottoman Empire collapsed, British and Europeans really divided the region up and it became no longer a constellation but North of Africa and West of Asia is what the Middle East is understood as. You’re right in pointing out that Afghanistan is not part of that. Afghanistan is in central Asia, but Afghanistan historically has always been a buffer between East and West and in this exhibition I never ever reference directly to Syria or to the Syrian crisis, but it was really on top of my mind when I was working for the Guggenheim. I always had on my mind Syria when I was soliciting and looking for artworks to acquire for the institution, when I was enquiring about them, when I was building the curatorial concept because this is also a collection, not just an exhibition.

MS: Among the art works in the exhibition there is one in particular I would like to ask you to talk about “In Transit” by Lida Abdul.

SR: Lida’s piece is a very poetic analysis on places of post devastation, a space that has been ravished by war. She’s an artist that I have been working with for more than 10 years, I have written the Venice Biennale catalogue for her, I have written several books and essays and curated her work in several occasions. Lida is somebody who really provides a non prosaic analysis and particularly this work deals with the idea of rebuilding, a kind of reformation of a country that cannot rebuild itself, that has had decades of being ravaged by war and conflict and also internal struggles. The children in the video are able to be resilient, they’re able to move forward, when perhaps adults are not, so there’s hope. The action, beautifully portrayed, draws from Iranian cinema, from Armenian filmakers’ practice and really incapsulates what I am trying to achieve with this exhibition.

Mara Sartore

  • Sara Raza, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa Photograph by David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York Sara Raza, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa Photograph by David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
  • Lida Abdul, In Transit, 2008. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP © Lida Abdul Lida Abdul, In Transit, 2008. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP © Lida Abdul
  • Installation view: But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, GAM, Milan © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2018 Photo: Carlotta Coppo Installation view: But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, GAM, Milan © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2018 Photo: Carlotta Coppo
Rome - Interviews

“From Screen to Nature and Back Again”: an Interview with NEEN founder Miltos Manetas

2 months ago

On the occasion of Miltos Manetas’ solo show at MAXXI, Rome we interviewed the artist to learn more about his art and practice, mostly related to social networks, selfie, fashion and the imaginary of the contemporary age.

For his solo show, Miltos (Athens, 1964) brings together with large canvases a world populated by selfies, a reality observed by Facebook, pornographic images next to fashion, the streets of the whole world he recorded by Google. A painter, conceptual and theoretical artist, recognized at international level for his internet-based works and for having founded in 2009 the first Internet Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Miltos tells about the emotions and the imaginary of our contemporary era.

Mara Sartore: In 2000 you founded NEEN (the first art movement of the 21st century) which investigates the Post-Internet Art. How have the things changed during the time? Which is your relationship with the internet and social media today?

Miltos Manetas: Around 2001 “The Post Internet Society” was born. I remember buying a little box that year, it was a wireless modem that you could connect to your laptop and have internet everywhere! To test it, I drove to very remote places in California until I finally reached the deserts of the Death Valley. The thing always worked! But a week later, the company that was producing it cancelled it’s service, returned the money to those who had bought it and closed down it’s business, literally disappeared! Not one journalist wrote a single word about that disappearance and never again such an internet-anywhere device came back in the market. The oligarchy of phone companies – the stars of our days – was re-established. Still, it was evident that this planet had now a new atmosphere and that was internet. What we call Western Society, quickly start re-organising in that environment: to live without internet connection, would now mean loneliness and it would have a great cost to your life and profession. After 2003 already, it would take lots of guts to stay an “Unconnected”.
I think it was there, on the depths of the Dead Valley, in a location full of gigantic mosquitos where stones are rumored to move around when nobody is watching, that I experienced for the first time the frenzy of Existential Computing. Suddenly, it was as if my presence in that particular spot, the presence of the car that brought me there, all my instruments, my clothes etc, were adding ones and zeros, computing. That same year, I met John Perry Barlow and we became friends. Life for Barlow was all about “frenzy” but of another kind: getting together with people, all kind of human souls, geniuses, assholes, losers and unbearable winners of the Silicon Valley type, neo-drug addicts, meta-politicians, shy sex-exploiters, you name it.. What really Barlow was doing with us, was building up a society network – not a social one, there’s a big difference.

MS: In your work you proceed in two directions: on one hand you employ a traditional and more “classic” technique, the oil painting, on the other you experiment the web and the virtual universe. It is fascinating this dialogue between the tactile, material and physical aspects of your practice and the notions of virtuality and abstraction of your main interest. Could you tell us more about your practice?

MM: I will respond to this question with Newpressionism’s slogan: “From Screen to Nature and back again”

MS: You’ve stated: “The landscape of the screen is for us as nature was for the Impressionists. We live in contact with the landscape of the screen, so it makes sense to paint it”. Could you tell us about your concept of art and your relationship with the internet society?

MM: Yes, nature was a new thing for me, I discovered it late in 2010 when I went to sleep on a tree in the middle of the Amazonian forest. From then on I start thinking at Nature not in terms of how Nature it is called but as an attempt to naturalize a side of the creatures around us. The Indios, for example, call animals and trees “people”, there’s no division between us and nature. So when I say that computers and digital objects are nature is because they are part of the abstraction that we consider nature and they become more and more nature.
I don’t have a concept of art nor even of myself as an artist. I feel as an operator who is searching in the dark. I find myself in a sentence by Eraclitus which states: “Man in the dark lights a candle for himself when the light from his brain is over”. This is best way in which I can describe myself when I do art.
As for internet, this is a landscape that I’m floating in it, I search in every corner of it trying to find some light. What I know about it, my relationship with it is a tactile and digital feeling, it has to do with my fingers.

MS: During the Venice Biennale 2009 you launched the Internet Pavilion. On this occasion as well as in 2013 with the project curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, your interest was addressed mainly to the “unconnected”, to those who do not use the internet. Do you think it is still possible for people to live without internet?

MM: Yes, there are people who live without internet. It is an unprivileged condition, proper of those people who cannot afford internet. This could sound strange but this happen because there’s a huge separation between us and them. Nowadays we cannot imagine people without connection, mobile phones, ecc… These figures become more and more significant today as they are becoming for us holy figures. This was my intention when I launched the Internet pavilion in 2009. In that context I was looking for unprivileged people among the privileged ones, because people engaged in the art are privileged. And I found them, there were unconnected, even artists that were acting without internet. These are holy figures, at least for me

MS: Could you tell us about your works from the series “Internet Paintings”, on view at MAXXI? Which is the creative process behind these artworks?

MM: I started in 2002 and it is an ongoing project. During these years, I started thinking at the possibility of existential computing. I don’t know the exact meaning of this but it was a concept that come in my brain on a rainy day in London and which I lost during the same day when I was doing a video.
According to the multiverse theory, for example, how shall we live our life now that we know that the universe is not unique but maybe it’s part of a larger system? I don’t think there are other universes around us but we are changing our vision of the reality thanks to the progress of technologies, the scientific and physic theories. If we take in consideration this possibility of multi-universes we shall think every time at the act we do or don’t do. For example, we are thirsty while working on a desk: my brain wants me to get up and have a glass of water but my body doesn’t move. What should we think? Which is the real act we did? Which is our relationship with the things around us? This is existential computing for me. I decided that I should use this exhibitions to experiment and construct quantum computer or at least test them. The idea of the exhibition was to use paintings as computational objects, as codes and databases. The space is full of codes and is still under constructions. In this context, I see myself as an operating system, a software that interrelate with the works and the environment. The most interesting thing is what we left out of our projection. What will be happing if we start making computations?

MS: You were born in Greece, lived in Italy, LA, London and now you are currently based in Bogotá. Could you tell us about this nomadic life stile and your perspective on the cultural scene of the city where you live now?

MM: I moved to Italy as Greeks didn’t want me to be an artist. In Greece my professors at school told me that I had no talent. Actually they were right as you don’t need to have talent to be an artist. To be an artist you need wisdom. In my life I moved slightly to the West because we are western people and we are used to move a little bit to the west and a little bit to the North. I first arrived in Rome, then in Milan and there I was stuck. Western and powerful cities are like blackholes, like packmen, they grab you, they eat you and they keep you there for sometimes. I stayed in Milan for 10 years. Then I arrived in New York and in this city I was stuck again. In the US I moved horizontally as this is the structure of the country. So I arrived in Los Angeles where I was grabbed by another kind of hole, the hole of a billiard play table. After that, I was bounced back to the East, as I cannot further to the West. The West ends in Los Angles. So I started coming back to the East, to New York, and then to Paris and London. I started living in a triangle, by moving frequently in these cities. In this way I become an important Western artist until I found a moment when I wanted to die.
At that point I met the South. I met São Paulo and Bogotá, in Colombia where I discover nature, and fatherhood. Here a lot of things changed into me. I had a sort of modification which affected my operating system. It happened something that obliged me to change as if a windows operating system is installed into a Mac computer. I discovered locations of the South and this brought me back to where I start, to Greece and Italy, Sabina close to Rome.This is my Google map story.
The cultural scene of the city is something I detest. Every city of our Empire world is the same. In terms of visual art there is a remaking of the 90s aesthetics. But there are peculiar and interesting situations where artists are doing completely different things which attract me. That’s why I want to collaborated with these people which I invited in the exhibition as well. So I will see them and paint them, as I am nothing more than a painter.

Mara Sartore

  • Miltos Manetas, The Italian Painting, 2000. Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI Miltos Manetas, The Italian Painting, 2000. Courtesy Fondazione MAXXI
  • Miltos Manetas, Courtesy of Fondazione MAXXI, Rome Miltos Manetas, Courtesy of Fondazione MAXXI, Rome
  • Miltos Manetas, Courtesy of Fondazione MAXXI, Rome Miltos Manetas, Courtesy of Fondazione MAXXI, Rome
  • Miltos Manetas, Internet Painting, 2000. Courtesy the artist Miltos Manetas, Internet Painting, 2000. Courtesy the artist
  • Miltos Manetas, Courtesy the artist Miltos Manetas, Courtesy the artist
Hong Kong - Interviews

“Standing on the Edge of the World”: Sean Scully in Conversation with Alfredo Cramerotti

2 months ago

On the occasion of the solo show by Sean Scully at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, which inaugurated during Art Basel Hong Kong, we asked the artist and the curator to have a conversation to learn more about the exhibition, the artist’s practice and his personal attitude.

Alfredo Cramerotti: Sean, could you tell me what brought you to investigate abstraction as a form of physical experience? The two terms are almost contradictory, yet your work seems to merge precisely this.

Sean Scully: I wanted to bring abstraction into the world of living things, of living matter. I felt it had shifted away from being able to communicate. So I gave it a kind of physical agency mediums.

AC: The exhibition presents a cross-media selection of works. I’d like to know from you how you approach the media differently, if so. Is there a different attitude or working methodology between canvas, metal, photography, paper?

SS: Paper is delicate. Pastel and watercolour require a great sense of sensitivity, and of course with watercolour one is always trying to release the height ‘within’ the paper. Pastel requires layers that are ruffed into the paper, fried again and again. The difference between canvases and metal is significant. Metal is hard and it pushes back registering everything you do without loss of energy. Canvas is soften and requires more building of layers.

AC: You’re showing in HK for the first time. What has mainland China given to you so far, and what do you expect from HK?

SS: I don’t send my work to HK to get something. I send it to give something: since it is already made when I send it. I have a profound relationship with China, almost intimate. And I love to deepen this.

AC: ‘Standing on the edge’ is the underlying theme of the show. I have my angle on it, as a curator; but what about your take? How did you feel about when I first mentioned this to you?

SS: My work is dealing with the subject of the edge. That is the metaphor. How the plates and bodies (political and geographical) push against each other.

AC: It strikes me that your attitude towards life is powerful, direct, head-on, yet – I think – sensitive in many ways. We all have ‘secret’ aspects. For instance, what I sense is that you are a generous person, and one who takes care of people. Is there something you don’t show of yourself at first?

SS: I think at the end, I am a nurse. When I was a child, I had an animal hospital in my house, for wild injured animals. I have always been like this. And now I support this and that, and attract friends, who are on hard tries. Most people see at first that I am direct. That is also true.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
  • Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
  • Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano Sean Scully, Exhibition view, 2018, Hong Kong Arts Centre © Sebastiano Pellion di Persano