Artissima – 25 Years of Art: an Interview with Ilaria Bonacossa and Other Artissima Stories

by Mara Sartore
October 30, 2018
Mara Sartore
Bonacossa Ilaria

For the 25th anniversary, Artissima fair presents Artissima Stories. 25 years of art, an exclusive format of interviews in blog and video formats, coordinated by Edoardo Bonaspetti and Stefano Cernuschi, with Anna Bergamasco. A programme of 25 stories about Artissima: 5 directors, 5 curators, 5 collectors and 10 gallerists. 25 viewpoints on Artissima and the contemporary art world, released every week at the fair website and social media profiles, from September to November.

In the frame of this project, we asked Fair Director Ilaria Bonacossa a few questions on the fair’s anniversary.

Mara Sartore: Can you introduce us to Artissima Sound? The project will be hosted by OGR and is one of the new initiatives to celebrate the fairs 25th anniversary.

Ilaria Bonacossa: Artissima Sound is a bit of a bet. We will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fair with a new section dedicated to sound experimentation in the monumental spaces at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni: 15 immersive, vibrant and poetic installations, selected by two international curators, Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Berlin-based art critic and associate professor of history and theory of art at HEAD in Geneva, and Nicola Ricciardi, artistic director at OGR.
The society in which we live, constantly assails us with images and videos, so I have the impression that the ‘aural’ dimension is returning to relevance.
The works, presented by Italian and international galleries, will be on sale; a will, to sell sound, which arises from the attention of Artissima on experimentation and new trends, revealing the ability of sound to impose itself and engage despite its intangible nature.
Among the 15 proposals, a jury made up by Anna Colin, associate curator of Lafayette Anticipations of Paris and co-director of the Open School East of Margate, Lorenzo Giusti, director of GAMEC, Bergamo and Judith Waldmann, curator and head of monitoring at Kasseler Kunstverein in Kassel, will select the winner of the second edition of the OGR Award.

Mara Sartore: A brief excursus to the key moments of 25 years of Artissima. And how will the topic “Time” present itself for this years edition?

Ilaria Bonacossa: “Time is on our side” marks 25 years of innovation. From 1994 to today, Artissima has transformed, responding to changes in the art world and foreseeing trends. Over the span of a quarter of a century it has hosted 1394 galleries, 946 of which are foreign and has witnessed the birth and development of talent, both in the galleries and among the artists.

A young Cattelan, for example, featured in the first edition and was one of the artists in the catalogue.

In 1996 the fair website launched,, and Artissima became an opportunity to promote contemporary art week in Turin, creating a fruitful collaboration between institutions dedicated to the contemporary in the city.

In 2000 the programme dedicated to visiting collectors was established and for the first time the number of foreign galleries exceeds those of the Italian.

In 2001 Present Future came to life, a section that has marked the emergence of many talents and that for 18 years has supported emerging art with the illy Pesent Future Award. An important anniversary that will be brought to light at the fair via a video tracing the history of this long-standing partnership with illycaffè.

2002 saw the entry of the New Entries section open to galleries  which have been active for less than 5 years; this year, thanks to the Professional Art Trust Fair Fund, 3 exhibitors in the section received financial recognition to support their participation in Artissima.

Since 2003, the Foundation for Modern and Contemporary Art CRT has provided funds for acquisitions at the fair, for GAM and Castello di Rivoli.

In 2004 the Artissima brand was acquired by the City of Turin and the Piedmont Region and became a public fair, whose management is entrusted to the Fondazione Torino Musei.

Artissima is the first fair to have had contemporary art curators as directors and this has marked its DNA: from 2006 to 2009 Andrea Bellini, from 2010 to 2011 Francesco Manacorda and from 2012 to 2016 Sarah Cosulich.

Among the most significant moments to remember we have; the projects in the theatres of the city by important international artists and l’École of Stephanie in 2009; the birth of Back to the Future in 2010 which launched the international trend for the rediscovery of pioneers of art; the Per4M section commissioned by Cosulich, dedicated to performance art and the “Shit and Die” exhibition curated by Maurizio Cattelan, which in 2014 recorded more than 30,000 visitors.

In 2017, with my first Artissima came about the Drawings section and the project “Piper Learning at the Discotheque” that involves the city on a journey back in time.

For the twenty-fifth anniversary, in partnership with Combo, we launched “Artissima Experimental Academy” whose first appointment, DAF Struttura, combines the educational side of things with a participatory experimental and technological dimension, welcoming students, international speakers, experimenters and artists in an environment – “Structure” – which synthesises the sound. A factory open to the public that focuses on the artistic creation through exchanges and contamination led by the experimental musician Jan St. Werner (founder of the Mouse on Mars group).

The topic of time also manifests itself at the Meeting Point by La Stampa thanks to a programme of conversations curated by Paola Nicolin, which aims to offer the public a plural proposal, highlighting both Artissima’s past and thanks to its experimental character its ability to become a treasure trove to the history of the contemporary art market in Italy.

The time of artistic creation is central to the new Artissima Junior, in partnership with Juventus, to allow children to create a choral installation at the fair together with the Argentine artist Alek O.

Lastly, this year we have launched “Artissima Stories 25 Years of Art“, an integrated programme through blog and video, edited by Edoardo Bonaspetti and Stefano Cernuschi. A programme of 25 interviews with important key figures in the history of Artissima: 5 directors, 5 curators, 5 collectors and 10 gallery owners. 25 different points of view on Artissima and the world of contemporary art.

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