Insights on Artissima 2019: Q&A with Ilaria Bonacossa

by Claudia Malfitano
October 8, 2019
Claudia Malfitano
Bonacossa Ilaria

Claudia Malfitano: The theme of this’s years edition of Artissima is “desire/censorship”. Can you tell us a bit about it? Why did you choose this peculiar combination?

Ilaria Bonacossa: The “desire/censorship” dichotomy arose in response to a sensation of a challenge to freedom, of a world in which boundaries are imposed on us every day and at the same time the dizzying speed of its transformations. Desire seemed like a liberating, revolutionary ‘line of escape’, capable of confronting the status quo and of opening the way to artists’ unpredictable visions. Today meters of border walls between countries are being erected, and these physical barriers are reinforced by digital ones, which control the flow of information and images. Anyone who uses social media is ‘controlled’ by algorithms, which supervise images and words in order to ‘protect the public’. I wanted a theme that would stimulate heterogeneous reflections on contemporary ambitions and utopias, and on the complex relationship that exists in contemporary society between images and their control, and how art should come to terms with these polarities.

What would you say are the highlights of this edition of the fair? Lead us through the 2019 edition.

Artissima is a vital ecosystem composed of galleries that take part in the fair, and the partners with whom we activate various special projects, some during the week of the fair and others on the successive days of the year, offering a variegated programme for art world professionals and a wider audience. I am particularly pleased with the 2019 edition for the quality of the galleries selected and for having been able to bring back to Torino some whose work and research I respect very much, such as Sadie Coles, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Giò Marconi, Campoli Presti, Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler.
On the other hand, also this year the fair expands into the city with original, innovative projects. Among others, “Abstract Sex: We don’t have any clothes, only equipment” occupying the spaces of Jana, a historic boutique in Turin. Poised between an act of piracy and an exhibition, the project will offer a selection of works focused on the theme of desire curated by Lucrezia Calabrò Visconti and Guido Costa. “Artissima Telephone”, the second off-site project created for and with the OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, is a response to the obsessive relationship we all have with our mobile devices. The exhibition proposes an overview of the telephone as a means of artistic expression, presenting works selected, with Vittoria Martini, from the works of the galleries taking part in the fair. In town, during the fair, the large performative and sculptural installation “…ma l’amor mio non muore” by artist Marcello Maloberti will be hosted in the Salone delle Feste, the magical ballroom of 5-star hotel Principi di Piemonte di UNA Esperienze.

You have been reconfirmed as director for the next two years. What are your plans for the future editions of Artissima? what is your vision?

Artissima is not only for collectors but for art lovers in general, offering a cultural proposal inside and outside the context of the fair. Since my appointment in 2017 I have tried to emphasize this 360-degree approach, focusing on one hand on the curatorial and experimental character of the event, and on the other broadening its practice through specific projects developed with our partners and with emergent and established artists involved in the production of new artworks, with the goal of widening the audience for contemporary art. I am unquestionably pleased with what has been accomplished with my fantastic team this far, but there are other projects in the works. In collaboration with our partners, we will imagine new modes of experimentation, open to the surprising possibilities triggered by the intermingling of different worlds. We will offer the public cross-disciplinary projects capable of informing and amazing, all at the same time. Artissima will continue to discover and promote contemporary art, encouraging galleries that conduct research and invest in artists who can help us to imagine the future. We will further develop our educational projects such as “Artissima Junior”, powered by Juventus, this year featuring the young Italian duo Ornaghi & Prestinari; and “Artissima Experimental Academy Vol. III” in collaboration with Combo and Alserkal, with the Iranian artist Setareh Shahbazi. Among other projects, after “Hub Middle East”, the new focus of the fair launched this year, in 2020 we are planning to concentrate on Africa presenting “Hub Africa”, a focus on artists, galleries and institutions of this incredibly powerful and evocative geographical area.

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