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.
- Simone Menegoi © Pasquale Minopoli
- Arte Fiera 2018
- Arte Fiera 2018