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).
- 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
- 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 © Matteo Monti