Artissima 2017: an Interview with Ilaria Bonacossa

by Mara Sartore
September 25, 2017
Mara Sartore
Bonacossa Ilaria

Artissima 2017 will be inaugurated on November 2nd. Mara Sartore has interviewed Ilaria Bonacossa, the new Artistic Director, to discover more about this edition and the main concept behind this curatorial art fair.

Mara Sartore: I’d like to know some more about Artissima 2017, besides the news that has already been announced. You stated that Artissima could be a new “Liste”, a fair that brings together international galleries representing young and emerging artists and that can generate a young collectors’ base. Will there be a change in the way the galleries are selected?

Ilaria Bonacossa: There will be a gradual change. The established galleries that have been participating in the fair for years will still be there for this edition, alongside galleries who are working on research and not only those focused on new markets. We’re interested in working with galleries that work with young artists, who aim at promoting new talent and to continue artistic research that goes beyond a merely commercial focus.

M.S.: In Italy the most important art fairs are Artissima, miart and Arte Fiera. In this scenario it seems like each fair is looking for its identity. In your opinion, how can these three entities live together or how much can one of them impose its precedence over the others? Did Artissima take into account other fairs in shaping its identity?

I.B.: Artissima has a unique identity, and it can still be defined as the only truly contemporary art fair in Italy. It was born when miart still didn’t exist while Arte Fiera is a fair for modern art. Artissima focuses entirely on contemporary art. The fact that miart has grown into a modern art fair has made it possible for Artissima to establish itself as a curatorial fair, a space for talent scouting. On the coexistence of fairs: there’s international as well as national competition, given that there are more than 200 fairs around the world and Artissima aims at being international. It’s quite a strong fair and it could be better if the others weren’t there – competition makes each player weaker – but it’s also a mean of survival and coexistence to have a mission and to manage your own identity. It therefore makes sense to have different fairs because each one also reflects the city where it is hosted.

M.S.: What’s the role of the city and of the art week during the fair?

I.B.: The city plays a very important role. Artissima is a public fair, it’s not privately owned, so the brand belongs to the city of Turin and to Piemonte, its region. This relationship cannot be questioned. This is why the fair has a relationship with Turin, a relationship based on the strength of the link that the public sector has created with the private one. I’m talking about the collaborations with banks and foundations that allow dialogue and coordination on a cultural and strategic level. Artissima is Artissima but it’s also the experience in Turin, without its museums the fair wouldn’t be what it is; and this is true for the other fairs as well.

M.S.: What’s the percentage of international visitors to Artissima?

I.B.: It is difficult to map the numbers but the visitors are predominantly local, despite the growth of foreign visitors, mostly from France and Switzerland. The interesting thing is the growing number of foreign collectors and VIPs who make up around 40% of attendees and who are also coming to experience the city.

M.S.: Based on the idea of cultivating a generation of emerging Italian artists and young collectors, are there any specific projects at the fair?

I.B.: There’s a project called Deposito which used to be called Progetto in Mostra. Over the years, Artissima has given space not only to foundations, by promoting their exhibitions with advertising inside the fair, but also by requesting artworks on loan to be shown during the fair in order to promote their excellence.
This year we took our inspiration from 1967, the year that highlighted the presence of Arte Povera in Turin and that marked its artistic identity, despite the show then being held in Genoa. Arte Povera marked the foundation of many of Turin’s institutions from Castello di Rivoli to the Fondazione Sandretto and the Fondazione Merz. With this project we aim to pay homage to those years and we will do it by creating a real storage in which works created since 1994 (Artissima’s birth year) to now are presented, precisely in order to mark the relationship between the fair and Italian art, art that is as good as foreign art but that, commercially speaking, is still struggling.

M.S.: In this sense, I presume that the concept of a digital fair, that you talked about, will make it easier to follow this line of thought.

I.B.: In Italy we are still struggling with digital systems, even though they have become an everyday part of working life. Artworks can be seen online, projects can be started online and we can also sell online. That’s why we’ve been thinking of offering galleries their own digital viewing platform; so that every single gallery can enjoy an up-to-date online space on Artissima’s platform that does so much business and guarantees them a showcase and great visibility.

M.S.: Apart from the announcements that have already been made, such as the presence of the new Drawings and Deposito sections what other news would you like to mention?

I.B.: The Drawings section was created to push galleries that didn’t already participate in this section to present graphic works that they would not have otherwise submitted if they wanted to participate in the main section.

M.S.: Will there be outside projects commissioned by the fair around the city?

I.B.: No, the fair will remain on the fair grounds. We have not considered any external projects because we want to support our customers at the fair. In general, we believe that bringing the fair to the city can be counterproductive and it does not make much sense for us to compete with all the great institutions of the city. The upcoming art season in town has really strong projects such as Anna Boghiguian’s solo show at Castello di Rivoli, the opening of OGR and the shows at Fondazione Sandretto.

Save the date: Artissima 2017
3 – 5 November 2017
Oval Lingotto Fiere
Giacomo Mattè Trucco 70, Turin

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