Postcards from Italy

Text and pictures by Maria Santos

Giro d'Italia, a little article in the October issue of Monopol, made me really eager to pay a brief visit to the boot-shaped peninsula. A series of Povera Art exhibitions curated by Germano Celant seemed a very convincing reason to me to hop off on the Lombardy and take a ride to the Piedmont for the occasion. And even better: while some remarkable political events were already brewing, I could top my journey with a visit to the international art fair in Torino, Artissima 18.

Avanti, Italia!

First stop in my quest for nice places under the rain in Milan: Kaleidoscope. Their headquarters usually house the offices where a quarterly publication with the same name is produced, but since they also work as an exhibiting space I could catch the groupshow “An Image”. Speaking there with Matteo Tascone was quite helpful, his further tips would lead me forward to Peep Hole. Born in 2009 as an independent non-profit space inspired by the spirit of Kunsthalle, they host 5-6 exhibitions per year, do occasional collaborations with institutions such as CAC Vilnius and publish a regular Peep Hole Sheet. I met Bruna Roccasalva, one of the curators involved in this project for a little interview in which she mentioned the crisis and the lack of public funding in Italy. She's aware of how contradictory all this could sound, but it seems that in the last two years more and more people are getting involved in similar projects, as if they all realized that someone had to accomplish this mission.

Bruna with a work by Rosalind Nashashibi

My next visits will include Galleria Zero, which was kind of fancy, and Fondazione Marconi, a puzzling pop-themed private collection, with an institutional aftertaste in a building which looks half KOW Berlin, half roman catacomb.

DNA Projectbox

Torino. Umbrella in hand, I would head to Artissima Lido, a series of evening events including exhibitions, screenings and performances taking place in diverse spaces of the Roman quadrilateral during the days of the fair. While checking a bunch of venues including studios, thrift stores, bars and galleries, I would meet Alice Cannava presenting her latest issue of Occulto Magazine, the above pictured guys from Venice with their massive rusty block, and the nice curators behind Gum Studio and Crypta 747, who also pointed out how difficult is to cope in a country that only cares about the “old” stuff and doesn't help at all to develop new exciting projects. As a consecuence, many of the people I met happened to be based in Berlin.

Davide Daninos

Brown Space had a show together with Codalunga and daily music performances in the basement. I met  Davide, who kindly gave me a guided tour around the exhibition and a lift to the next spot: a historical commercial passage covered in marble and a really varying audience where I could enjoy a noise performance.

On sunday I must have been abduced at Artissima between noon and closing time. I ran out of time on my eight hours visit with so many parallel activities keeping me distracted: book corners, workshops and seminars, performances, the collector's walk, or the Office for Statistics:

I arrived soaking wet at the Lingotto (former FIAT factory) on time for the talk with Pistoletto, however my weak italian skills would make me leave and start checking booths after less than ten minutes.
The most current and exciting works were shown in “Present Future”. Apart from the international and the italian presence, the really big names, the participation of established institutions, I found a very strong french representation at the fair. So maybe it's not only that Gaillard is “very happening” this year.
Post-irony, deconstruction of language, the expected critiques on capitalism and the current notion of history were the main topics of the fair. Plenty of works would respond to a clear archaeological value: from a formal anxiety for modernism to the reflexion of art on the every day life, adressed in book/newspaper-based installations and archive material in an attempt to re-discover history in a media-saturated age.

A hint of Berlin: a painting by Dorothy Ianone at the Peres Projects booth

I couldn't decided between Magritte and Tillmans. So making sure that I wouldn't get a piece of Broadthaer's mussels or Sierra's NO, proximity did it for me and opted for a piece of the colourful pistachio homage to Richter. And after the yummy interlude I got hypnotized. No kidding, it was part of the Hypnotic Show, responsible of an slightly sedated end of the day.

Due to the alarming state of the weather, I had to skip my late visit to Venice Biennale en route to Berlin, but luckily I still could make it to the Povera exhibition at Castello de Rivoli. After a challenging way and even climbing a hill, I arrived at a unique and impressively well preserved venue full of works by Kounellis, Merz, Horn and many others.

I came back safe to a lesser rainy and even sunnier Berlin with my hand-pack full of fantastic publications, courtesy of the kind people and institutions above listed.

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