Milovan Farronato and Angela Vettese have lived/live in Venice and worked together during Angela Vettese’s presidency at Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice.
Angela Vettese: For your Pavilion you have chosen three artists with whom you have not only worked a number of times but with whom you have also shared a lot with. The first thing that I am drawn to is the existential compo- nents of both their work and your relationship to each of them. Yet you have always been attracted to the formal elements of their work and have never shied away from the necessity of the work to “show off”. Which of the two aspects prevail in the reasons for your choice of Liliana Moro, Enrico David and Chiara Fumai: the conceptual evolution of their idea about life or the way in which they have given expression to this?
Milovan Farronato: Neither/Nor. I would rather replace Kirerkegaardian Aut-Aut with a double negative. Either they are both true or neither of them are. There might an ephemeral point of contact somewhere in the distance or perhaps there exists a third way that brings them back together. I have always been fascinated by one of Liliana Moro’s neons which simply asserts (but how do you teach me, simple is not simplistic!): neither in heaven, nor on earth. Where does this place reside? Where is this dimension? The formal aspect is important, almost fundamental, one cannot disregard the container in order to enjoy the content. I brought them together because at some point down the line the configuration was clear. I imagine Liliana’s work as a perspective cone that widens into a wide-rang- ing vision. While I imagine Enrico David on the opposite side, which from its blurred horizon tends towards the vanishing point. And finally I interpret Chiara as that existential and intricate maze of symbols that connects the two opposite perspectives. I had the luck and the pleasure of working and sharing life experiences with all three, but first and foremost I feel a profound and moving em- pathy with their work in their characteristic differences.
AV: You are the curator of a pavilion which displays at its entrance the monumental inscription “Italy”, affixed during the fascist movement to the central pavilion of the Giardini, it then moved to the Arsenale after countless controversies, not withstanding that the Venice Biennale from
the beginning and until the 1930s was without a dedicated pavilion to our country. Beyond the historical events, for which the gigantic space at the Arsenale you are about to occupy with the works of the three artists was inaugurated, I feel obliged to ask you whether you conceive your work as a national representation or whether you disregard this as- pect. Nor can we forget that you and Enrico have been living and work- ing for years in Great Britain and that Chiara, had she still been alive, would probably have spent much time in New York, the place of her last artist’s residence. In any case, as curator of this Pavilion do you intend to interpret an Italian language or a transnational one?
MV: I must correct you there, Chiara couldn’t handle it in New York and, after just a few weeks, she returned to Italy; at the very most she spent only one of the sixth month residency there. Her thinking went into state of crisis in the US and she literally ran away. Not even I, to tell the truth, have ever abandoned Italy, not only be- cause I am still a resident in Milan, but because, as you well know, for over ten years I have spent every summer in Stromboli, where
I oversee for the Fiorucci Art Trust, the contemporary art festival Volcano Extravaganza in its ninth edition. An unavoidable, emotionally essential engagement in my annual agenda, which records my very erratic life. I observe Italy, above all, from Stromboli. To me, Italy is a smell, a perfume, certainly a landscape, a vibration! I have many homes and I am not referring to formal domicile, but to elected places of affection. These are Borgonovo Val Tidone where I was born and where my family still lives, the aforementioned island of Stromboli, certainly Milan, but also Venice where you yourself introduced me to many years ago and for other various reasons.
I have also lived in London for six years and spent a lot of time in São Paulo, places which have inspired me with new and precious perspectives and way of life. I like flowers, especially winter ones. The first mimosas. But I like the idea of pollen. And also the con- cept of “smarginatura” (an expression so dear to Elena Ferrante). Spreading, losing oneself, trespassing. Maybe even blurring and confusing the boundaries or even merging them. As a teenager I used to feel the sensation of breaking up, of losing my identity. It was as if I would shatter into a myriad of scattered particles, which would never again be recomposed. To feel myself anchored to the ground, I asked the closest people to call me by my name. As if my name was the only safe belt that could guarantee my existence. Some years ago it was explained to me that according to some spiritual disciplines, this feeling of dispersion of being and body is considered a sign of liberation, of elevation, a sort of other worldy evolution. Today I am no longer afraid of becoming fragmented, because it means flying. The “Italian Spirit” can be compared to a kind of pollen, which like many others, is destined to become dis- persed. Enrico brought it to Britain and now, enriched by other fac- tors, he has brought it back to Italy. Minister Alberto Bonisoli has recently stated that art doesn’t have a passport and I share this view with him. I would like to add in conclusion, and I am sure it will amaze you, when I received the letter which invited me to present a project to represent Italy, there was non mention of the fact that my artistic choices should have been of Italian nationality. The only mention was of the relation between past and present, of Italian sentiment and of many other things, but not of the nationality of the selected artists, and I found this a relief, even though I have put forward three artists of Italian nationality to represent Italy.
AV: The idea of dispersion is interesting. It is said that you will build a maze with two possible entrances and routes. What will we encounter in this tangle? How will our sense of identity be challenged? Are you planning a single itinerary or three distinct ones?
MF: Calvino in “La sfida al Labirinto” (Menabo 1962) spoke of tan- gled languages and only seemingly divergent tendencies. He then emphasised a rationalist and a visceral path that I feel I can relate to Liliana’s attitude (the first) and Enrico the latter. And he argued how these paths could be intricate even at the time, in the middle, around, through them I imagine Chiara’s path that could potentially connect them. There are many itineraries. Different exhibitions at the same time. Different entrances and ways out, but above all more than one centre. It is said, as Mario Praz said, that at the end of a maze there is often a mirror because man must recognise himself as either a god or a monster, this being the final mystery of their existential search. On the contrary I prefer to think that under a curtain, or behind a corner, or thanks to a crack in the wall or as a consequence of a sudden glimmer, the visitor can be attracted by someone else who distracts him for a moment from the search for un-findable principles and allow him to feel unexpected empathy or a sudden affection. At the very end the horrific forest and the locus amoenus often coincide (see Boiardo and Ariosto, less evident in Tasso who was a victim of the strict rules of the Coun- ter-Reformation) and behind a robust tree, a peril could be hidden, of course, but also a pleasant and adventurous encounter.