London - Interviews

Kader Attia on Re-appropriating The Field of Emotion and Modernity’s Fantasy of Repair

2 hours ago

We interviewed the artist Kader Attia for the occasion of his first major survey in the United Kingdom, The Museum of Emotion at the Hayward Gallery in London. The international artist, who has been coined by the Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff as “One of the most interesting and cogent artists practising today”, spoke to us about the Field of Emotion, La Colonie, the Gilet Jaunes, his notion of Repair and his experience at the 57th Venice Biennale. 

Lara Morrell: It seems to me that your art is a form of catharsis in the face of social and geopolitical frustrations, is this an apt observation and could you tell me more about the title of this exhibition the ‘Museum of Emotion’?

Kader Attia: Yes, that is true. It is very important to me to be aware today that we’ve been neglecting emotion, not only in art, actually it all started in politics and for this I take the French example which I know really well; at the beginning, in the 80s, in France the left gained power with François Mitterrand, after two decades of the right being in power and after 68’ and the Algerian War, it was a big victory for the left. But it you look back the 80s on the contrary brought about the rise of neoliberalism and the rise of a new right and even worse the fall of the left. How it happened in France is very interesting as it affected other countries, in France the left became snobbish, what we call ‘Gauche Socialiste’, they started to neglect what I call the roughness of life, in the cultural field they started to make the colours ,the smells, the noise and the museums and their exhibitions emotionally and intellectually dark and obscure, continuing a new form of conceptualism which was not political but much more to seduce the market, so that if you are to look at an artwork and you don’t care about its origin, whether it was made in Palestine or in Africa or even in your own country. So the 80s for me were the moment when the left has happened upon the field of emotion to look at reality, then what is interesting is that so far the 90s is the depoliticised decade, at this very moment slowly in France you start to see the way that Neoliberalism in France got into politics via its very own tool, the media.

LM: What would you say is most interesting example of this?

KA: Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi owned two channels in France, Le Cinq and another channel, they became very famous and like in Italy, they were totally populist, they both slowly but surely became so popular, the figure of a neoliberal promise, that people began to believe that this guy is right. The connection between neoliberalism and economy and politics became more obvious because of people like him. The link between Silvio Berlusconi and Trump is very direct because after this Silvio Berlusconi, who was very much using what I call the field of emotion in the sense he was provoking in France, like he did in Italy, the catharsis of the people, their desire to be healed, to be cured by condemning  and blaming the other; the French economy is bad because of the choices made and the orientation of the economy by the left and that this was total ‘nonsense’, Sarkozy re-used exactly the same word after Berlusconi. Much more interestingly by 1995 he had become very famous in France, having open-end his first channel in 1985, he started to build his political party Forza Italia, what is extremely important here (in terms of communication he is not an idiot Silvio Berlusconi) is that here is a clear illustration of the understanding of the power of the tool of media, television and newspapers to reach power and control. He was able to do this by the abandonment of his Field of Emotion by the left. And if you look at what has happened right after him in France and in all countries, the direction of the political agenda became politically parallel with the rhythm of the media and the news, 9/11 has created George Bush’s policies, Sarkozy too of course and Trump for me it the most obvious example, he has been hijacking the attention of the political and media landscape by creating scandal to gain attention, he plays with the ambivalence of emotion.

LM: Could you explain what you mean by the ambivalence of emotion? In your opinion do emotions have the potential power to heal or they solely create conflict? Can tell us some more about ‘The Field of Emotion’ ? (An installation in the exhibition, where the artist has juxtaposed images of politicians with singers know for their powerful, affective delivery)

KA: Why do I think that emotion is ambivalent? I think that if you look at a seminal context in history during the 21st Century the way that populism has brought to power fascists in the 30s, you clearly observe that finally only culture and artists can compete with politics on that ground. In the Field of Emotion on the wall of my installation I put people with very high voices, very charismatic singers, people like Maria Callas, people who really galvanised and magnetised crowds, juxtaposed with figures such as Goebbels, Hitler and Fidel Castro, all these political figures both male and some females such as the Fidel Castro’s sister Juanita Castro, totally Homophobic, responsible for a vast number of gays in jail who have died as a consequence and Mao’s wife Jiang Qing, responsible for the cultural revolution, a small detail to explain that the Field of Emotion is this state that most politicians, especially when they have a fascists and radical agenda, hijack the intellectual and art because it is a tool to control the crowd and you just need to watch Hitler’s of Goebbels speeches, they are so passionate that they convince the audience, Trump is like this, people like us of course are hermetic to this but not the crowd, and thats why in the United States that the biggest mistake of the left, if we can say there is a left there, is that they did not let Sanders win, they put Hilary Clinton instead, because Sanders was aware of the Field of Emotion but these snobbish democrats were convinced they were going to win over the pleb, they were so pretentious that in the continuity of the way the left in France and everywhere in Italy have neglected the field of emotion, everyone woke up with this nightmare. I think we are living a crucial moment of re-appropriation of the Field of Emotion, because I do trust especially in a country like this with Brexit in motion, is that the Field of Emotion today, with Salvini etc in power, is now in the hands of the far right.

LM: Could you tell me about your space La Colonie, the space you opened in 2016 in Paris which encourages cross cultural critical thinking and what is your view on the Gilet Jaunes movement?

KA: Yes, as this is also connected to the Field of Emotion, recently we had Toni Negri at La Colonie, he sent me a very long email after we did a gathering on the Gilet Jaunes movement, I asked Toni Negri if we could connect the Gilet Jaunes to the Forconi movement in Sicily which gave birth to The Five Star movement and he explained that what is happening in France with the Gilet Jaunes is more complex because we know that many movements in Europe have been at the origin of the new far right, so we need now to really take care of the risk of falling into the far right. Ètienne Balibar was at La Colonie with Toni Negri and I couldn’t agree with them more, even amongst the left and within the cultural institutions they are diabolising the Gilet Jaunes claiming these people are fascists, they just reproduce the speech of the neoliberal right and the media has diabolised them with one agenda; so that they really became a fascist movement and I think this is a crucial movement we have today because we do need to reinvent a way of on the one hand re-appropriating the field of emotion that is held not only by political figures but another kind of power which exists within each society today which is the mass media, the tabloids, the media which is linked to the neoliberal, that do not allow any diversions they just follow the narrative of liberalism and to deal with this we need either to create spaces, small niches or create art works which emotionally involve the audience such as what I am doing on the 23rd at La Colonie*  I’m inviting all artists who want to support the Gilet Jaunes, as well as curator and critiques and anyone else who wants to support them and say it publicly and now the movement is becoming bigger, I am in touch with my team and it is going to be big, what I am telling you is that there is an emergency today of being part of the realm in terms of re-appropriation of this Field of Emotion. I think this is very important. You’ve seen in Italy for yourself over the last 20 years this evolution towards Fascism.

*On the 23rd of February the artist is hosting at his space in Paris – La Colonie a day dedicated Gilet Jaunes activism, whether artists, intellectuals and critics will gather to exchange thoughts and ideas on how to relay the movement and engage in the Gilet jaunt movement see link to event here

LM: The vast installation ‘The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures Is rife with African Masks and paraphernalia recovered from the World War One, could you expand on your notion of Repair in relation to these seemingly contrary objects.

KA: My idea of repair came to me slowly in my research that observing back in time, ten years ago in very poor contexts and throughout history and inside the storage spaces of ethnographic museums, that very isolated societies which are not in touch with Western modernity and then became in touch with colonialism used to have practices of repair which have absolutely nothing to do with Western conceptions of repair, which means that when an object was broken they used to repair the object by keeping the injury visible, a broken calabash was stitched or stapled with staples keep the injury visible, not only in Africa, in Japan for instance a broken ceramic pot which has been fixed the injury of the object was painted in gold and this is called Kintsugi and its a very delicate art of taking care of the injury. At the rise of technological modernity the West started to get obsessed by the fact that to control the injury and to repair an object means to erase the injury, the object needs to look like it did at the beginning, this is the total fantasy of modernity, if you apply this very obvious, yet deep-rooted opposition you really start to realise and understand the different conception of injuries, whether from the western point of view or from a traditional non western one. Then it becomes clear that it is a crucial state, for instance I think for me the most significant moment of Western modernity’s shift and probably the beginning of the end is World War One because as it lasted 4 years, millions died, was the macabre theatre of so many inventions and in this very moment the injured bodies wounded bodies were very much the incarnation of the state of progress, what I find extremely interesting is the way they used to fix the injuries. At the beginning of World War One, in 1915 the  people who used to repair the injured faces and bodies during the war would do this in the middle of the battle field because the whole army was so overwhelmed by what was happening and were not expecting such butchery, the people were young women, young nurses, perhaps 16 years old. The is one very famous French lady who after the war became a very important plastic surgeon doctor, her name is Suzanne Noël, and she described searing the faces of the injured in the middle of the field with bombs exploding above her head and then what my research has shown me that in the very early repair looked so much like broken African mask objects which have been repaired the further into the war, into 1918 the repair became more ‘perfect’ in the sense that they developed prosthetics in resin for someone who is injured, they would dry the skill and fill it with resin and then take pictures to prove that science can repair the injury and you can see this in the slideshow* in the installation, the evolution of the way that the western world is obsessed by perfection and the non western when it comes to repair not only physical but is much more free to accept the ‘more or less’ also when it comes to psychology.

*In the slide show which forms part of the installation ‘The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures’ Attia pairs images of soldiers treated to early, rudimentary plastic surgery with African masks and objects bearing signs of physical repair, a series of juxtapositions challenging our conventional ideas about wholeness, injury beauty and otherness.

LM: On the topic of psychology could you tell me more about the installation Shifting Borders (three separate videos and a series of uncanny sculptural elements) and your focus on Mental Health Southeast Asia? 

KA: Yes this is about the relationship between South Korea and Vietnam, a work which deals with how the two countries have been dealing with their trauma psychology and using magic, and I think this is extremely important because I have been working a lot on the way that Psychopathology has been used in societies where traditional beliefs and traditional forms of magic and healing have always existed but in South East Asia I really found something extremely interesting for because, for instance, it was really difficult to find Shamans in South Korea, most of the people would say they don’t have these anymore, South Korea is society which has been faced with forced capitalism, it is so neoliberal, it is so tough, you are nothing if you are not brilliant, beautiful and competitive, its a scary society so the few people who are ‘normal’ like us are trying to fight against this and Vietnam on the other hand, a country which embraces communism has  on the contrary, even though communists were against superstition they have protected animism so much.* The work looks to different form of healing and the therapeutic role played by shamanistic practices in non-western societies.

*In one of the interviews to mental health professionals, academics and traditional healers, a Vietnamese spiritualist describes holding a ceremony for the spirit of an American solider who had possessed her brother-in-law.

LM: Lastly, you exhibited in Venice for the 57th Art Biennale, we are based there, how was your experience on our home turf?

KA: It was great, I made a sound piece ‘Narrative Vibrations’, slightly hidden away in the Arsenale, it was using the voice of female singers and their voices were transformed with a software we developed to move grains on plates and it was based on the discovery by a German composer (I live in Berlin I don’t know if I told you that) who’s name is Ernst Chladni (1756-1827), he discovered the equation that solids transmit sounds and some frequencies produce patterns that also exist in nature. I applied this to an invention I made with a couple of French engineers, we had ten plates in the space, I poured couscous on each place and then grains moved according to the voices of Arab singers from the postcolonial golden age, singers I grew up listening to through electromagnetic waves provoked by the songs. It produced some quite stunning abstract sounds and visually it was effective.

Lara Morrell

  • Installation view of Shifting Borders, Kader Attia_ The Museum of Emotion at Hayward Gallery. Copyright the artist, courtesy Hayward Gallery 2019. Photo_ Linda Nylind .jpg Installation view of Shifting Borders, Kader Attia_ The Museum of Emotion at Hayward Gallery. Copyright the artist, courtesy Hayward Gallery 2019. Photo_ Linda Nylind .jpg
  • Installation view of Kader Attia_ The Museum of Emotion at Hayward Gallery. Copyright the artist, courtesy Hayward Gallery 2019.jpeg Installation view of Kader Attia_ The Museum of Emotion at Hayward Gallery. Copyright the artist, courtesy Hayward Gallery 2019.jpeg
  • Installation view of The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, Kader Attia_ The Museum of Emotion at Hayward Gallery. Copyright the artist, courtesy Hayward Gallery 2019. Photo_ Linda Nylind.jpg Installation view of The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, Kader Attia_ The Museum of Emotion at Hayward Gallery. Copyright the artist, courtesy Hayward Gallery 2019. Photo_ Linda Nylind.jpg
  • Kadia Attia with Ralph Rugoff Kadia Attia with Ralph Rugoff
New York - Interviews

The All-embracing Nature of Nature: An Interview with Kiki Smith

3 days ago

For the occasion of her solo show at Palazzo Pitti, Florence and her upcoming exhibition at Pace Gallery, New York, we’ve interviewed artist Kiki Smith.

Lara Morrell: Could you tell us about the title ‘What I Saw on The Road’ for your exhibition at Palazzo Pitti in Florence?

Kiki Smith: I live on a road and I see everything on this road when I walk or drive down it and a lot of it simply inspired me to make things and the exhibition is primarily of the tapestries which were made since I moved to living on this road. So it’s just about that, about being at home in what would be technically down state New York but to a New York City person it would be upstate New York on the CAT scale. This exhibition is primarily Tapestries because the Uffici has a tremendous collection of Tapestries and I think that was the initial starting point. The Tapestries are made by Magnolia editions in Oakland California and woven on traditional Jacquard looms which are several of hundred years old. There are also some small sculptures.

LM: How should Feminism be understood?

KS: You know I think Feminism is not really my primary concern, my primary concern is being an artist but my other concern is certainly to be a human being and feminism is about part of the liberation of human feelings and I believe that we should honour living beings in all their formations, females, males, non specifics, mixed genders, any living being is worthy or our honour and respect, so Feminisim is part of that movement.

LM: Would you be correct to say that nature is your greatest source of inspiration? Where do you think your fascination with the body and bodily fluids derives from?

KS: Yes certainly nature is my source, as it is all there is, there is living nature and inert nature and our nature. Everything on this planet is natural, so yes it’s my source for sure! About the body and bodily fluid, I had a boyfriend and he gave me a book called Grey’s Anatomy which is a very famous anatomy book, he worked in a bookstore and bought me home this book one day and then I worked for five or six years just from that book.

LM: You use varied range of media, combining traditional techniques with more recent technology, is your use of material for different subject matter an intuitive decision or is it integral to the concept behind a piece?

KS: No, I just choose what fits and often I make the same pieces in many different materials, I often also make the same images over and over again.

LM: We are based in Venice, you have exhibited a number of times for the Venice Biennale. Do you think during your various times spent in Venice, the Serenissima has influenced your work in anyway?

KS: Well it certainly influenced all the work I did for Homespun Tales for Querini Stampalia, as it was all directly related to Querini Stampalia. But perhaps Venice has inspired me in life more than anything, because I believe the Venetians and generally all Italians take great pleasure in their lives, in a sensuous way and that is a lesson I think everyone can learn from.

LM: You live and work in New York, we are now putting our guide together for the occasion of the Armory Show, could you divulge a few insider tips of where to go and what to see off the beaten track?

KS: I like things like the Natural History Museum or if I may put in a little plug for myself (which I rarely do!) I made a very nice window for the Eldridge Street Synagogue (a stained glass window with stars against a fragmented landscape of blue) created by myself with architect Deborah Gans, that’s beautiful and that’s downtown. The MET is the best! There are many places, but I think generally people just like walking around, like Venice its a city to discover by walking around.

LM: Could you tell us a little something about your exhibition at Pace Gallery ‘Murmur’ at the beginning of March?

KS: It’s mostly sculptures I have been working on over the last few years, with prints, etchings and cyanotypes and contact photographic prints.

LM:Which artists did you look up to earlier on in your career?

KS: Frida Kahlo, Eva Hesse, Chagall… all different artists… Nancy Spero and her husband Leon Golub.

Lara Morrell

  • Kiki Smith, Courtesy of the artist Kiki Smith, Courtesy of the artist
  • Kiki Smith, Europa, 2000-2006, Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery Kiki Smith, Europa, 2000-2006, Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery
  • Kiki Smith, Harbor, 2015 Kiki Smith, Harbor, 2015
Dubai/Sharjah/Abu Dhabi - Interviews

When Tradition Meets Modernity: An Interview with Nujoom Alghanem

6 days ago

Claudia Malfitano: Your work as a poet and as a film director is deeply connected to your Emirati roots and womanhood is a recurring theme. Can you tell us a bit more about your practice and your creative process? Where does it all begin?

Nujoom Alghanem: My creative practice began when I was young. I read and drew a lot which eventually led me to writing. I started with the classical form and my Arabic teachers recognised that I had potential and encouraged me. Then I started experimenting with different poetic styles. In the late seventies and early eighties, I dabbled in Nabati (vernacular poetry in the Arabian Peninsula) because it was very popular, and when you’re young, you want to fit in and be accepted. I also tried the Arabic metric poetry style for the same reason. Of course, the literary tide of the Arab modern movement was recognised in our region and helped us get connect with what was going on in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and North Africa by then. The Eighties was an eye opening period for me, I found myself drawn to free verse form. I was mostly influenced by European, American and Latin American modern poets, artists, and philosophers. This changed my whole perspective about poetry and eventually influenced my personal choices. My poetry is interconnected with my work as a filmmaker and artist. I consider literary resources – poetry, novels or drama – really great sources of inspiration, but the most important one is people. People greatly inspire me: their world, stories, frustrations, confusion, sadness, happiness, pain, passion.

CM: You will represent the UAE at the upcoming Venice Art Biennale; what does this mean to you? What do you think of the Biennale’s theme: “May You Live in Interesting Times”?

NA: I am truly excited and honoured to be representing the UAE in collaboration with curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, following my first participation in 2017. The National Pavilion UAE tells our story on a global stage to the international arts community, and carries our values of fostering understanding and promoting cultural dialogue. The theme of the Biennale underscores my practice within the context of a rapidly transforming society. The interesting passage of time is deeply embedded in my work as an artist where I am always trying to resolve the tension between the traditional and the modern. However, I consider myself quite drawn to the now and the city, and our contemporary world.

CM: You were born and raised in Dubai. What is your relationship with this city and its fast pace and ever-changing nature? How do you feel the local traditions are coping with this super-fast modernisation?

NA: As a child, I remember sitting on the rooftop of my grandparents’ house in Bur Dubai after school, watching huge ships sail slowly, silently down the Creek, which made me always think of traveling and exploring other lands. Today, Dubai is a very busy city. It has different faces and paces; fast and hectic during the day, dynamic and loud at night, beautiful but noisy, light sometimes, grimy other times, elusive but welcoming, playful yet tough, sophisticated but easy to know, strange yet friendly, hard even though it has a tender heart. It’s the city where I was born and where I learned how to love and wait for things to take shape so I would understand them better. The city has grown up along with me. Although I think I know it, it overwhelms me sometimes. I am grateful, however, to have grown up in Dubai, which is a fantastic city and my love for it underlies all my work.

CM: What is your perspective on the city’s art scene?

NA: The art scene in Dubai is diverse and thriving, and after many years of development, it has matured greatly and it would be interesting to see what the next years will bring; I think the milestones of the past few years, such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and Art Jameel have been a testament to that. Artists from across the region and the world are coming here to find inspiration, participate in dialogue and discover their creative voices. At the same time as these artists are exploring here today, I am pleased to see that there is an increasing recognition of the history and tradition of Emirati contemporary art, and of the ways in which our leading artistic figures, such as Hassan Sharif, have influenced and shaped UAE art today.

CM: My Art Guides likes to recommend to its readers unique places to visit in each destination, not necessarily connected to contemporary art. In your opinion, what are the absolutely unmissable places, landmarks and spots in Dubai? And could you recommend something that shouldn’t be missed during Art Week?

NA: Dubai as a whole is very seductive and captivating. With all the expansion and sophistication, I always go back to the beach, a spot in the Jumeirah area that keeps calling me and inspiring me. Another place is the Dubai Public Library, which is located in Khor Dubai – Dubai Creek’s shores on the Bur Deira’s side. It used to be the main cultural hub for many activities including lectures and poetry readings besides its basic function as a place for reading and borrowing books. I consider it one of the earliest literary and cultural initiatives in Dubai.

Claudia Malfitano

  • Nujoom Alghanem. Image courtesy National Pavilion UAE - La Biennale di Venezia Nujoom Alghanem. Image courtesy National Pavilion UAE - La Biennale di Venezia
Bologna - Interviews

“Hic et Nunc”: Flavio Favelli Tells us About his “No Vip Lounge” Welcoming Visitors to Arte Fiera 2019

3 weeks ago

Among the five main projects of Arte Fiera 2019 one has been conceived to greet visitors: “Hic et Nunc” is a lounge created by Flavio Favelli in the central plaza of the fair’s entrance. To discover more about this project, we interviewed the artist who revealed details of his installation to be disclosed on the preview day, January 31, 2019.

My Art Guides: This year you will be a main player at the fair with the piece”Hic et Nunc”, a lounge created to welcome visitors to Arte Fiera. Could you tell us a little more about this project?

Flavio Favelli: Simone Menegoi invited me to rethink the Vip Lounge, but then, for various reasons, we thought of a “No Vip Lounge”, as we have called it in these months of work, a large living room where you can stop at the entrance, which is a kind of large covered square before arriving at the pavilions where the gallery booths are. “Hic et Nunc is essentially a large roofless room with about thirty small armchairs; it will be sign posted with two found luminous signs which have been restored, one with a clock and the other with the original letters of the old Nannucci record shop, famous throughout Italy, which I found years ago. The fair is a place of visual hubbub and I have tried to create an environment where we can bring a halt to this, together with the idea of a problematic, obsolete and seductive place at the same time. The two signs attempt to give the sense of a city, an empty city. Like other environments, when I think of them I see them without any presence. After all, creating an art environment is to create a work of art and this always has a different relationship to reality. You can certainly live in the art environment and sit down in one too, but it is more of a virtual possibility, I would say a kind of excuse; even the armchairs are designed objects, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down on them.

MYAG: Florentine by birth, you studied in Bologna where you lived for 30 years in your home in Via Guerrazzi, another location of  one of your installations for the occasion of Art City Bologna 2018. Over the years you have seen the city evolve. How do you feel the current art scene compares to when you first arrived in the city?

FF: I think the problem is the city, not the art scene. The current art is always perceived as a form of leisure, then there is the great interlude of Arte Fiera. There are companies that do events only during Arte Fiera, as if they needed an excuse to support and disseminate the arts.
Over the years the Prime Minister has come to Bologna twice for the presentation of FICO and the new Lamborghini SUV: in both cases no art projects took place, yet always talking about our tradition and our past. In the history of this country – from Rome to Fascism – the art of the times has always accompanied the great events of society and, with rare exceptions, this tradition has never stopped. The only hint of this came with Street Art, which however became a popular and moralist form of creativity too soon.

MYAGCurrently you live and work in Savigno, a small town in the Bolognese Apennines. How does this place influence your artistic research?

FFSavigno is a “white”* area compared to the “red” Emilia (if it is still). It is a closed, hard village, where food lately seems to be the only salvation. In the end the important thing is silence, both at home and in the studio there is a lot of silence, conducive to the echo of my images, of my poetic questions.
*colour which indicates the historic Christian Democratic Party, opposite to the “red”, which is linked to the Communist Party

MYAG: In you opinion what are the most interesting artistic realities that Bologna has to offer? What are your favourite places?

FF: For about last 15 years I haven’t really frequented the artistic scene, especially after the end of the Link Project and now living in Savigno I do not go into town very often. I do not even go to particular bars, let’s say that lately I am more driven by politics, as both an interest and somehow as a commitment. The current situation is really critical. Today, Wednesday 23 January 2019, the “Libero” newspaper on the web has a front page title that reads: “The turnover and GDP is falling but the number of gays rise”. All this is repulsive, slowly Italian people are rediscovering its roots, probably its true vocation against culture.

MYAG: What are the projects are you currently working on?

FF: I’m working on an artist’s book with the publisher Corraini. It will be called “Bologna La Rossa” (Bologna the Red”) a series of unpublished drawings on my personal memories in relation to the tragedies that have taken place in the city and that I still have in mind. Then a project in the Ca ‘Rezzonico museum in Venice for next May. In one of the rooms I will put together and assemble the floor panels that covered the steps of the Accademia bridge for months, with the yellow bands that mark the steps, frayed by pedestrians. A kind of continuous and daily abrasion with signs and shadows, both nuanced and fading.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Flavio Favelli © Giovanni De Angelis Flavio Favelli © Giovanni De Angelis
  • Flavio Favelli, Flavio Favelli, "Hic et Nunc", Installation view, Arte Fiera 2019. Courtesy of the artist
  • Flavio Favelli, Flavio Favelli, "Hic et Nunc", Installation view, Arte Fiera 2019. Courtesy of the artist
Bologna - Interviews

Highlights from Upcoming Bologna Art Week: an Interview with Lorenzo Balbi

1 month ago

For the occasion of our focus on Arte Fiera and Bologna Art Week, we interviewed Lorenzo Balbi, Artistic Director of MAMbo – Museum of Modern Art in Bologna and ART CITY Bologna 2019.

My Art Guides: A year and a half on from your appointment as artistic director of MAMbo, how do you regard Bologna’s cultural scene today? What has changed for the better?

Lorenzo Balbi: The impressions that have over time matured from previously visiting the city now and again have been confirmed after working for a year and a half in Bologna. Culturally speaking the city offers a lot but what strikes me most is the public’s attitude to attending cultural events. Even those considered more “difficult” or experimental have a great public following, certainly the result of an attitude cultivated over time and thanks to decades of high-level artistic endeavours in the city.
Recently things have certainly changed: from the new artistic direction of MAMbo and Arte Fiera, to the opening of new cultural spaces such as the Cirulli Foundation or Voxel, as well as new programmes, festivals and artists that have arrived in the city. I like to think that, even in this climate of change, it is the spirit of openness and interest in experimentation that has always set the city apart in this regard.

MYAG: Looking towards the upcoming exhibitions opening at MAMbo and Villa della Rose. Mika Rottenberg and Goran Trbuljak. Could you tell us about these two projects? How did the collaborations with these artists come about?

LB: For both artists they are the first solo exhibitions in an Italian museum. I have been following the work of Mika Rottenberg for some time and when I was appointed artistic director of MAMbo she was the first artist I thought of for the Sala delle Ciminiere. Her installations on industrial production processes may assume even deeper meanings set up in a context like this.
The Goran Trbuljak exhibition at Villa delle Rose is instead the result of an international collaboration between MAMbo and Center d’Art Contemporain Genève where the exhibition was presented in 2018. The project, co-curated with Andrea Bellini, was not only opportunity to set up the most complete retrospective of the Croatian artist in Italy ever before, but also to publish the first monograph completely dedicated to his work.

MYAG: The exhibitions by Rottenberg and Trbuljak are part of the ART CITY Bologna programme, which you have curated for the second year, what changes have been made this year?

LB: The structure of ART CITY Bologna is the same as 2018 with a special event (the performance Anthropometry by the collective les gens d’Uterpan at the Pavilion de l’Esprit Nouveau curated by Sabrina Samorì) and a series of major events (from 10 last year to 17 in 2019). In addition to the main programme, ART CITY Bologna 2019 has brought together over 100 other events in the city, put forward by art galleries throughout the city and by the Bologna Cineteca Foundation.
If the 2018 edition seemed like a big show spread throughout different venues in the city, ART CITY 2019 Bologna will present itself as a fully fledged art festival bringing together the most important institutions and realities that occupy contemporary culture in the city. Thanks to the shared commitment, it has succeeded in the presentation of a rich programme with more than 10 consecutive days of events, inaugurations, performances, initiatives and meetings.

MYAG: You have been one of Simone Menegoi supporters since the beginning, in your opinion what are the benefits of your collaboration for the city of Bologna?

LB: I am convinced that Simone Menegoi’s professional profile, combined with his experience in the sector, is perfect for carrying out the repositioning and relaunch project that the BolognaFiere management has designed for Arte Fiera. The first five months of work by Menegoi and his deputy director, Gloria Bartoli, demonstrated the extent of the commitment and the depth of their line of action. The presence in the city of interlocutors of this calibre is for me an important opportunity for exchange and in-depth analysis.
An attractive fair is important for the museum and a purposeful museum is important for the fair. With this in mind we are building upon shared projects that can only increase and refine what Bologna has to offer culturally speaking. In particular, the development of shared lines of research, combined with a general communion of intentions, can lead to the intercepting of funds and attracting attention in turn capable of increasing the possibilities of the two institutions.

MYAG: What are the most interesting artistic realities in Bologna for you? What are your favourite places?

LB: Bologna is seen from the outside as a city with an important variety of artistic proposals, in particular with regard to the different expressions of the contemporary. Historically, this has made the city the point of reference for artistic experimentation in terms of cultural production in Italy.
It is very difficult to put together a hypothetical map of these places that, just to name a few, are institutions (such as MAMbo, MAST, Opificio Golinelli, Bologna Cineteca), independent spaces (Xing / Raum, Voxel, Tripla, Localedue, Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio, Adjacency), centres of art experimentation (Ateliersì, Spazio Labò, Locomotiv Club, Cassero, Collegio Venturoli), art galleries (P420, Gallleriapiù, Car Drde, Enrico Astuni, de ‘Foscherari, Forni, Otto Gallery) as well as artist’s studios, laboratories, residences and training institutes. A special mention to the many festivals, the protagonists in the cultural programming of the city (Live Arts Week, BilBOlBul, roBOt, Gender Bender, Biografilm, Future Film Festival).

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Lorenzo Balbi, Direttore artistico ART CITY Bologna 2019, Responsabile Area Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Istituzione Bologna Musei © Caterina Marcelli Lorenzo Balbi, Direttore artistico ART CITY Bologna 2019, Responsabile Area Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Istituzione Bologna Musei © Caterina Marcelli
  • Mika Rottenberg, Untitled Ceiling Projection (video still), 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Goldsmiths CCA, Londra, MAMbo – Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, Kunsthaus Bregenz Mika Rottenberg, Untitled Ceiling Projection (video still), 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Goldsmiths CCA, Londra, MAMbo – Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, Kunsthaus Bregenz
  • Goran Trbuljak, Self portrait, 1996 Courtesy Collezione Enea Righi © Dario Lasagni Goran Trbuljak, Self portrait, 1996 Courtesy Collezione Enea Righi © Dario Lasagni
  • MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna © Anna Rossi MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna © Anna Rossi
  • MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna © Matteo Monti MAMbo - Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna © Matteo Monti
Mexico City - Interviews

Yann Gerstberger and Mexico City’s Magnetism

1 month ago

French artist Yann Gerstberger will have his first solo show –“Ice News and Freeway Fetishes” – at OMR gallery in Mexico City next February during Zona Maco. We had a little chat with him to explore his original practice and his world.

My Art Guides: Your current practice is deeply connected to Mexican popular culture. How is this place influencing your art? Have you always been attracted to this culture?

Yann Gerstberger: I see mostly connections between what is considered (Mexican) popular culture, arte popular, contemporary art, outsider art, graffiti.. I think what’s cool when you are an artist (a painter or a sculptor for example) is you can drive (and eventually run over) those categories because you’re generating another kind of language that goes beyond those definitions. Obviously they are identifiable signs in my work and by chance people recognize them so those signs are like little flytraps.. they stick to your eye and then you can go deeper. Recently I’ve been pretty much obsessed by the Yoruba culture. I have never been to Lagos. There is a graphical link between the beads layout in the Yoruba crafts and some of the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner etchings of the Alps.. I’m trying to transliterate this feeling in my works, adding some abstract mosquito shapes, that are sometimes died with cochineal.

MYAG: Could you tell us more about your practice? How did you get into your original textile technique?

YG: I started to use mops to do collages when I was in Marrakech a few years ago. I was inspired by the boucherouite carpets as well as the berber carpets.
Boucherouites are made with old t-shirts and clothes. I started to use mops because they are the most basic, common, easy-to-find kind of fabric. I realized people use different kind of mops around the world, like the ones in Marrakech are different from the ones in NYC, Marseille or Mexico. I started to work with the Mexican mops that are made of strings. It’s a mix of cotton and polyester. They are white/beige when they arrive at the studio, then we dye them. Technically speaking, it’s not weaving. I use cotton strings but I don’t weave them. I stack and glue them on recycled vinyl banner. I dye the strings myself with industrial dyed as well as cochineal. It’s not technically painting either because I don’t use a brush. I sometimes use a sprayer full of chlorine to draw directly on my materials, graffiti like.

MYAG: What will you present in your first solo show at OMR?

YG: The show is called “Ice News and Freeway Fetishes”. It’s based on a mushroom experience I had with 2 friends of mine after an excursion in the Tambopata national reserve in the Peruvian Amazonian rainforest. I will present a new series of tapestries as well as a family of sculptures and I’m doing a chalk mural that will cover the integrality of OMR basement space. It’s going to be full of bird messengers and abstract lepidopterists hunters. I’m also presenting my first monograph for the occasion, Baby Comet Face, with Zulu Press.

MYAG: You were born in France but you live in Mexico. When and why did you decide to move to Mexico City?

YG: I don’t know why I’ve always had the feeling that the Zocalo is the center of something more vast than the city by itself. It’s weird because I’m not that much attracted by official areas or monuments, they are often ugly.. in Mexico and everywhere else. I guess the first time I saw pictures of the Zocalo and the historical center of Mexico City was in Francis Alÿs videos and actions, people protecting themselves from the sun in the flag’s shadow, dogs sleeping around, La Merced.. they must have left a mark on me. I studied and lived in Marseille for a while and as far as I can remember I had an ‘elsewhere’ fantasy.. my state of mind was: what am I going to talk about if I stay here? I felt like a urge to travel and explore new areas. I came several times to Mexico before I took the decision to set myself here. It came pretty much naturally. I stayed because of the beautiful people I met and the woman I came with, my partner at that time, I don’t know if I would have been able to make the move without her.

MYAG: What is your perspective on the city’s art scene?

YG: I feel like the new generation of artists is very dynamic and active even if the gap between the established and the youth is huge. I think this is a fertile context
considering the fact that the city is always mutating, locally, internationally, politically, geographically, physically.. There is a lot to do.

MYAG: My Art Guides likes to recommend to its readers unique places to visit in each destination, not necessarily connected to contemporary art, in your opinion, what are the absolutely unmissable places, landmarks and spots in Mexico City? And could you recommend something that shouldn’t be missed during the art week?

YG: Most of my favorites places are located in the historical center: Sanadoras la Calderia, Fray Servando 333: the best soups in town; Bosforo Mezcaleria; Café ReginaThe Museo de Arte Popular library (only by appointment); Baños Señorial (massage, sauna, day spa); Ex Covento Desierto de los Leones for a little breakaway

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Yann Gerstberger Yann Gerstberger
  • Yann Gerstberger, Studio, Courtesy of Galería OMR Yann Gerstberger, Studio, Courtesy of Galería OMR
  • Yann Gerstberger, Atarraya, Photo Courtesy Sorry We'reClosed © Sebastien Janssen Yann Gerstberger, Atarraya, Photo Courtesy Sorry We'reClosed © Sebastien Janssen
  • Yann Gerstberger, Queen Niya Yoruba Corona Yann Gerstberger, Queen Niya Yoruba Corona
Bologna - Interviews

Simone Menegoi, New Artistic Director of Arte Fiera, Reveals This Year’s Highlights

1 month ago

For the occasion of Arte Fiera and the art week in Bologna, we interviewed Simone Menegoi, the fair’s new artistic director who has taken the place of Angela Vettese.

My Art Guides: How did you react when you were first asked to become director of Arte Fiera? Which is the major challenge you are facing?

Simone Menegoi: I would be lying, if I said I was expecting it! In truth, I was taken aback by the proposal, and it took me a while to metabolise. It was a while before we decided to accept the offer: even if I have collaborated with Artissima for the last ten years as curator and author of texts, I had never before contemplated directing a fair. The challenge we face – I speak in the plural, because I work with a very close-knit team, of whom I would like to at least mention Gloria Bartoli, the assistant director – is the inheritance of a forty year history, and to imagine its continuation both in the present and in the future. A great but arduous task: when Arte Fiera opened its doors, back in 1974, it was the only one in Italy (and one of the first in Europe); now it is confronted with at least three other Italian national fairs, and with an almost saturated international calendar of fairs.

MYAG: As your position as director is a 3 year assignment, what is your long term vision for the Art Fair?

S.M.: I imagine a fair that remains steadfast to its Italian identity – a winning factor, especially when Italian art is increasingly appreciated in the world – but without being closed to international points of view. A fair of reference for modern and established contemporary art, whilst being capable of intercepting contemporary trends. It boasts special sections, curated and subjected to a stringent selection, whose proposal is original and attractive for collectors.

MYAG.: What’s new this year and what sets the fair apart from previous editions?

S.M.: In spite of the extremely limited time with which we had to organise the fair, some notable changes have been made. To mention a few, firstly the choice to limit the number of artists that can be exhibited in each stand: up to a maximum of three for stands up to 64 square metres and no more than six, for larger booths. It is a measure with which we want to encourage galleries to focus only on a select few artists in order to deepen their proposal in this regard. We then redesigned the photography section, entrusting it to the Fantom curatorial platform (Selva Barni, Ilaria Speri, Massimo Torrigiani, Francesco Zanot), which has given it more of a hybrid edge, closer to contemporary art (the section now also includes video). Turning to the public programme, we are preparing the first episode of a series of exhibitions entitled “Courtesy Emilia Romagna”: an exploration of the institutional collections in Bologna and the surrounding region from the perspective of a curator, which will change from year to year, this year Davide Ferri has been invited and will present his exhibition titled Solo figura e sfondo, what’s more we will launch a collaboration with Flash Art, which is to become our “content partner”, in charge of curating the talk programme.

MYAG.: How does the fair create a dialogue with the town of Bologna?

S.M.: In many different ways. First of all, through a coordination with all the main actors of contemporary art in the city to ensure that Arte Fiera week becomes Bologna Art Week, full of events, but each with its own visibility. And then dialogue with very different interlocutors to create fruitful collaborations for both partners: the Opificio Golinelli will bring for the first time at the fair its famous educational workshops with a scientific / artistic theme; the Teatro Comunale will be ideally “twinned” with the Fair because both will host an installation created specifically by Flavio Favelli (the fair, titled Hic et Nunc, will be a sort of large lounge that will welcome visitors to the entrance); Silvia Fanti, one of the founders of the Bologna-based association Xing – a reference point for performing arts in Italy for almost twenty years – will be curating “Oplà”, a series of performances by Italian artists with an international profile (Cecchetti, Chironi, Pietroiusti , Vascellari) that will take place at the fair and around the city. And the list could go on.

MYAG.: If you were to advise a collector how to spend 24 hours in Bologna during Arte Fiera, what would you suggest?

S.M.: I would of course recommend he comes shopping at the fair in the morning, reminding him that pavilion 26, as tradition has it, hosts modern and contemporary proposals, while 25 is oriented towards research and innovation (and includes the Photography and moving image section). If they have the time, I would suggest taking advantage of one of the many VIP programme events such as visits to the houses of some of the greatest collectors in Bologna. And then I would recommend that they do not miss the formidable exhibitions on the Art City circuit, from Mika Rottemberg’s first solo show in Italy (MAMbo) to Goran Trbuljak’s retrospective (Villa delle Rose), from Thomas Struth’s solo exhibition curated by Urs Stahel (MAST) to the first Italian solo exhibition by Geert Goiris (Palazzo De ‘Toschi): an international event, in which one is spoit for choice.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Simone Menegoi © Pasquale Minopoli Simone Menegoi © Pasquale Minopoli
  • Arte Fiera 2018 Arte Fiera 2018
  • Arte Fiera 2018 Arte Fiera 2018
Hong Kong - Interviews

Reawakening Hong Kong’s Art Scene: an Interview with Tobias Berger

1 month ago

My Art Guides: Tai Kwun is the biggest restoration project ever undertaken in Hong Kong, with more than 1500 square metres of exhibition space. How has it been since the opening? And how does Tai Kwun position itself in the institutional art field of Hong Kong? What news Tai Kwun will bring to the city’s art scene?

Tobias Berger: I think the most important thing to underline is that Tai Kwun is a revitalisation project rather than a restoration one, which really means that we have to enliven this amazing space. This was an Old Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. We have 16 old buildings and 2 new buildings. The Visual Arts part which we call Tai Kwun Contemporary is concentred in two of these buildings.
We opened in May 2018 and the reaction has been super positive from both sides: the visitor numbers are through the roof, Tai Kwun welcomed the first million visitors in October 2018 but more importantly we care about the reaction from the people of Hong Kong as Tai Kwun was specifically made to engage the local community. I mean, we do love tourists and people from all over the world but you know, but 80% of visitors are from Hong Kong. In regards to galleries it’s the same for Tai Kwun, with around 250 thousands visitors. Actually, I don’t know any other art project that has these kind of numbers but again, it’s more important to receive a good reaction from professionals as well as amateurs and artists. We have a really cutting-edge programme which involves several Hong Kong institutions and we mostly feature Hong Kong, Chinese and Asian artists which is wonderful!

My Art Guides: Before undertaking your role as Head of Arts at Tai Kwun you were the executive director of Para Site and curator of the future M+ Museum for Visual Culture. What do these positions mean to you and how do these experiences infiltrate into your new role?

Tobias Berger: Well, for all these places, the general and common idea runs on the concept of how you create a valid art space for that location and how do you develop a valid programme for the local community or for the Hong Kong discourse. Neither M+ nor Tai Kwun Contemporary is there for the global art audience especially in these years. It’s here for Hong Kong art community, the artists and the people. That was the same reasoning we had at M+: it is a Hong Kong Museum, where we look at Hong Kong from the outside and I think this is the only way to give a place a certain identity and connection to where we are.
I’ve worked in Hong Kong for such a long time and you know it’s really hard to establish an institution like that without any knowledge or appreciation of where you are and the environment you live in.

My Art Guides: The artists you have showcased since the opening include Wing Po So, Leung Chi Wo + Sara Wong, Nadim Abbas, Cao Fei… As this is not a permanent collection but rather a sort of Kunsthalle, how do you select the artists?

Tobias Berger: First of all, as you said, we are non-profit, we have no entrance, we do not collect but we also do not exhibit our own exhibitions as we collaborate with other institutions both locally and internationally to basically produce tailor-made exhibitions for Hong Kong. So we are not just a pit stop for travelling exhibitions but we are working with partners together to create something for the city. Our first exhibition, “Dismantling the Scaffold”, was produced with Spring Workshop and curated by Christina Li, and to me it was really important to work both with a local institution and curator. And we had Wing Po So, a Hong Kong artist curated by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
We are not so much in the business of curating the artists. The selection is by the curators and by the presenting institutions. We basically help them to produce the exhibitions, that’s what is important here. Cao Fei’s exhibition for example was officially curated by UCCA and for this show we had to work a lot here, in Tai Kwun since we know the spaces better. So it’s a cooperation between Tai Kwun and the guests.

My Art Guides: What upcoming exhibitions and programmes are you working on?

Tobias Berger: I can’t tell you that! Of course not (he laughs). What I can say is that we really want to do very contemporary exhibitions and coop exhibitions. We don’t want to become too commercial and too close to galleries. We have two exhibitions during the art fair: one is a an exhibition titled “Far Away, Too Close”, a collaboration with the Wellcome Trust in London which is a contagious city and the other is “Performing Society”, a cooperation with a larger European museum on a new definition of public and space, due to open in February 2019. And then we have other 2 big solo shows.

My Art Guides: You hold around 6 exhibitions a year, which is a lot…

Tobias Berger: Yes, international exhibitions last between 2/3 months; we are not reinventing the real but we are just shifting perspective. You know we neither want to reinvent the Kunsthalle concept. Being in the middle of Hong Kong and having this Hong Kong point of view, we can certainly bring another perspective to it.

My Art Guides: You’ve stated “In Asia people are moving easily from non-profit to commercial and back, and you see artists that become architects, architects that become artists … That’s much more 21st century”. How has the art scene in the Asia- Pacific region evolved since you arrived in 2006?

Tobias Berger: It has changed dramatically. There have never been a change like that in a city in such a short time. The only other city that has changed so much is Shanghai, which in the last 4 years has exploded. Asia changes so fast, we see it even in Korea in Gwangju and Busan.
Every city is very different but when I look closely at Hong Kong…well, it became the hub of international art market also thanks to the increasing number of auction houses and galleries. There’s no place where you have both a very good art scene and also major galleries, it’s like having every big gallery in the world in Milan or Seattle! Commercial galleries are just totally out of proportion.
It’s very good but also challenging for the local galleries since they have to compete with the big boys. There’s an exchange but, I have to say, there should be more. International gallery could work harder to look into the local art scene. The Hong Kong art world from being a normal art centre, became a global centre for the art market and we didn’t expect such a de-centralisation of the market out of New York, London or Berlin. Nowadays everything is of course influenced by fairs, biennales, but there’s no one centre for art anymore. It was so in 1970s for New York or in the 1930s for Paris. People would not look back at the 21st century stating that the art centre was “x” but we have different art centres and I predict that in Asia this will be in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo which are at the moment very promising but you we don’t know how quickly things will change. For example 10 years ago people would have said that Beijing would have become the new art centre of Chinese art and then…ops, something went wrong!
 So when I first arrived here Hong Kong had a very strong non-profit scene and this gave a lot to the art scene in a healthy way, looking at what institutions like Para Site and others did. But then the commercial side took over the scene in the last 5 years and now with the opening of Tai Kwun and M+ the level is balanced. There’s a healthy art ecology because we have magazines, we have art schools, a Kunsthalle art centre and the galleries are also balanced, things become amazing! The next big step is M+ opening: they have a great team, a very good collection and a spectacular building so what can go wrong?

My Art Guides: I’ve learned that you love living in Hong Kong… You’ve worked in eastern Europe, New Zealand, but decided to stay in Asia and more specifically in HK. What do you like the most in the city?

Tobias Berger: I am always interested in various transformations and changing society, politics and so on and Hong Kong is one of these places that is changing dramatically. And it’s not only Hong Kong. It’s 25 minutes from Shenzhen, 45 minutes from Macao…So you don’t have one city but 4 dynamic cities that are training new political systems. We are in one of the fastest growing centres of the world where a lot of artists, gallerists, journalists, curators are coming and I would never say that in any other place. It is one of the most amazing places to be and I feel very privileged to be part of this in last 10 years. I saw Shenzhen growing up from almost nothing and becoming one of the most interesting of cities (not art city) in the world. I am also lucky to see the art scene is growing here, being part of the M+ foundation, having worked as a curator at Para Site and now running Tai Kwun is an amazing privilege. Tai Kwun is an amazing project and I’m very happy to be part of that.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Tobias Berger Head of Arts, Tai Kwun, Courtesy of Tai Kwun Tobias Berger Head of Arts, Tai Kwun, Courtesy of Tai Kwun
  • Cao Fei Prison Architect 2018 Video installation 57’ Installation view of Cao Fei Prison Architect 2018 Video installation 57’ Installation view of "A hollow in a word too full", Tai Kwun Contemporary, September 2018 - January 2019
  • Tang Kwok Hin Every Pandiculate 2018–now Video installation, daily objects Dimensions variable Special thanks to all participants in the Every Pandiculate project Installation view of Tang Kwok Hin Every Pandiculate 2018–now Video installation, daily objects Dimensions variable Special thanks to all participants in the Every Pandiculate project Installation view of "Our Everyday—Our Borders", Tai Kwun Contemporary, September 2018–January 2019
  • Interior of JC Contemporary. Courtesy of Tai Kwun Interior of JC Contemporary. Courtesy of Tai Kwun
Rome - Interviews

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

2 months ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carla Ingrasciotta: Any upcoming projects to look forward to?

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

Carla Ingrasciotta

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

Reporting from Shanghai: An Interview with Suki Seokyeong Kang

3 months ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Art Guides Editorial Team

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