A JOURNEY IN TURIN DURING ARTISSIMA

A vibrant first week of November for Turin, which has lived through one of the busiest periods of the year. The entire art world got involved in this condensed period of fairs, gallery openings, talks, events, screenings, concerts. The main driving force of this established meeting has always been Artissima, the main contemporary art fair in Italy since 1994. A powerful machine that, every year, involves almost 200 galleries from all around the world, it is able to push the limits of a traditional art fair, presenting research projects that are linked to the international market. Artissima again didn’t present itself just as an art fair; it had, in fact, three artistic sections directed by a board of curators and directors of international museums. Present Future was dedicated to the emerging talents, selected by young international curators, while Back to the Future hosted solo exhibitions of great art pioneers, in this edition specifically focused on the period from 1980-1990. Disegni was, instead, devoted to the medium of drawing.

From November 3rd to the 5th, the Oval, a glass pavilion built for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, has hosted established galleries on the international contemporary art scene accompanied by Dialogue, reserved for emerging galleries or galleries that follow an experimental approach, New Entries, for the brand-new galleries that were founded in the last five years and that are at Artissima for the first time and Art Editions, for galleries specializing in editions and artist’s multiples.
To enrich the content there were two main special projects that have had a great success. The Deposito d’arte Italiana presente examined the history of Artissima, from 1994 up to now, selecting works by 128 Italian artists that have marked all these twenty-four years of activity. The particular way of exhibiting the works has surely had a strong impact on the visitors; the circuit was through a temporary warehouse that functioned as an archive of the Italian system and art market. This remarkable research project looked back to the history of Torino and evoked an experimental exhibition format of 1967-68, whose name was Deposito d’Arte Presente. The young gallerist Gian Enzo Sperone and the artists with whom he worked such as Pietro Gilardi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Gilberto Zorio, with the support of a group of collectors, transformed an industrial space of the city of Turin into a center of production, display, and exchange of works by the artists who later became leading figures of Arte Povera. The Deposito d’arte Italiana presente was a reflection on the connections and the references of the last years of Italian art that underlined the main cardinal points of the Italian panorama. These years, marked by political changes and an economic crisis, are the new starting point for the emerging artists today, even if it has not been deeply studied yet. This analytically based exhibition— within the context of an art fair that has become, at this point, international— intended to provide a snapshot of the contemporary Italian art never taken before. Piper. Learning at the discotheque was a program dedicated to talks, coordinated by the classroom, a center of art and education directed by Paola Nicolin that explores new boundaries between pedagogic and exhibition practices. The meetings were held in an evocative reconstruction of the discotheque created in collaboration with the art group Superbudda and Gufram. Pietro Derossi with Giorgio Cerretti and Riccardo Rosso were the designers of the old Piper club in Turin, which became a point of reference for the citizens from 1966 to 1969; at Artissima, the old meeting point for Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighiero Boetti, Piero Gilardi, Mario and Marisa Merz, Gianni Piacentino, Carlo Colnaghi, Carlo Quartucci, Patty Pravo, the Living Theater, Carmelo Bene, Massimo Pellegrini, and Pietro Gallina has become the new scene for the contemporary art figures of the present.

Along with seven prizes awarded to participating artists and galleries, thirteen different tours through Artissima’s grid have been offered to the public. Each tour was led by a couple of exceptional representatives of the art world, who could independently choose to present a point of view of what was exhibited at the fair, focusing on the works, the artists, the language, or the galleries. It was an experimental form of walking tours whose strength was the diversity. The attention for the curators’ presence and the educational activities in this edition were strictly connected to the mind behind this tremendous program: the new director Ilaria Bonacossa, who has a strong background in the curatorial field. Among 206 galleries from thirty-one countries, some works, in particular, have caught the attention of Made in Mind Magazine.
Galleria Enrico Astuni presented a work of Suzanne Lacy, Cleaning Condition (A Homage to Allan Kaprow), realized between 2013 and 2017. The starting point of the performance was the action of cleaning that hid a long inquest on the themes of gender, work, daily life, and meaning of the art. It was Hans Ulrich Obrist who invited Suzanne Lacy to create an homage to Allan Kaprow, following his 1966 instructions:

Sweeping the dust from the floor of a room,
spreading the dust in another room
so it won’t be noticed.
Continuing daily.

Lacy, in a provocative way, interpreted this instruction from the lenses of immigration and salaries in the UK. During the Manchester International Festival, she scheduled three actions at the Manchester Art Gallery: eight days of sweeping made by a team of labor and immigration organizations, trained by the gallery cleaning team from Somalia; a session of questions on the intersection of immigration, labor, living wage, and the role of women in the care and service sectors; and private conversations about the concept of work between the gallery staff, with an emphasis on its relationship to the global gendering of care and service.

A work that couldn’t go unnoticed is Untitled (Why so alone) by Simone Mongi for Placentia. An installation of sentences that, in a game of overlapping, allowed us to read only through the shadows projected against the wall. The shadows here gained importance compared to the material itself and forced us to carefully read the words, destabilizing our usual attitude of a quick reading. Mongi’s collection is made of decontextualized fragments of Tumblr dashboard. Abrasions on photographic print and wood were the works of Laura Pugno at Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea. With a precise technique, Pugno created a geographic inlet on a natural landscape, comparing Degrees of autonomy to a surgical intervention. Books imprisoned in marble cubes of different sizes and colors were the work of Francesco Arena for Sprovieri. Arena protected and, at the same time, made the books inaccessible to the public. Preventing us from seeing the covers of those books, he asked us to think about the weight of the books, the importance they’ve had, and the importance they still have in the present. Here we thought over the content that was disconnected from the esthetic perception we have of books. Jan Fabre’s work, Helena Regazzi (Silent Screams, Difficult Dreams) at Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art in the section Disegni was a theater, whose characters were dark Venetian glass figures of animals against a gloomy scenario. At Federica Schiavo, Salvatore Arancio created juxtapositions of beauty and disquiet. The natural confronts the artificial, the mineral world is connected to the vegetable one, two-dimensional objects linked to those that are three-dimensional, scientific meanings dialogue with the mythological. His work is a scientific volume devoid of any substantial image but a vague ambiguous frame. 

Carlos Garaicoa worked on the concept of presence and absence in Malecón IV, exhibited at Galleria Continua. Two faces of the same cityscape: a solid building in the middle of the street in the first picture and the structure hidden inside it in the other, put in evidence by nails and strings that created a fragile skeleton, memory of the building, in this picture disappeared.
For the second year, the unconventional independent fair The Others has taken place at the Regina Maria Adelaide Hospital, which was active until 2016. Following the expanded structure of most of the art fairs, the sections The Others Stage, The Others Screen and The Others Roundtable were accompanied this year by the new section Specific, that hosted site-specific projects in some of the spaces on the second floor of the building, opened for this edition.
The Others has the objective of going beyond the classic model of the commercial fairs and giving visibility to the different realities of the art world; since the first year, it has involved not only galleries but also independent non-profit spaces and artists’ collectives. A hybrid form of market and cultural innovation dedicated to experimental researches and new forms of art.


PARATISSIMA. Pantaleo Musarò, Pigment print (Epson ultrachrome hd) on Espon watercolor paper on cardboard 2,5 mm, 2017

The public of The Others is not only made of experts and people that work in the field but it also includes young people, who could possibly become the new generation of viewers and collectors. The late night opening hours, atypical location, and energetic atmosphere were all key factors that are contributing to the success of this new model of fair.
The Performance Bar was the special guest for this year. A collective of artists from Rotterdam, promoted by Daniel van Broeke and Florian Borstlap, were performing every day from November the 2nd until the 5th. A bar, a musical section, a bathtub, and a stage composed the transformable platform for the performance.
Paratissima instead, represents a hub for emerging artists. With an international spread, Paratissima is also in Naples, Cagliari, Skopje, Lisbona, and in Turin, in the abandoned barracks La Marmora. It offered this year the opportunity to contribute to the development of Paratissima Art Production Center, selling artists’ multiples, available for a wider public. This year the fil rouge was the superstition, as the fair arrived at the 13th edition in 2017. Furthermore, Turin is the center of excellence for esoterism and magic. Divided into eight sections, Paratissima involved all the art forms. Design, Fashion and Crafter & Makers were dedicated to young talents of these fields that could sell their creations in specific areas of the building.

NoPhoto was dedicated to photography; a paradoxical name that claims the necessity of a break with the continuous flux of snapshots that we take every day, thanks to our quick smartphones. As the main communication tool, photography needs to establish again an intimate connection with the viewers. The leading voice for all the exhibition of this section was the relation between the individual and the society, as well as the ways through which the subject decides to claim his identity or to succumb to the social validation. The work of Roberta Capello combined photography with painting, underlining the boundary between reality and pictorial fiction, real and ideal, essence and appearance. In Seconda Pelle, the bodies that emerged from the dark were interrupted by fragments of painted images. Wearing a Pirandello’s mask, the subject hid her identity and at the same time declared it through her nudity. Photobodies: In Between the Edge of a Stitched Soul by Mikelle L. Standbridge underlined the impossible separation of the skin of an individual from the individual itself. Standbrige worked as surgeon and sewed scars, cuts, tattoos, piercings, and body modifications, fixing the coexistence of these apparently disconnected elements. Through brooches, nails, needles, and strings, the identities of the represented bodies are forever linked and live together with their history, without feeling it as an extraneous apparatus. Their memory is now engraved on their skins. Still in NoPhoto, Pantaleo Musarò analyzed the concept of identity in the contemporary society. Faces with a double profile, a combination of identities in the same portrait leaded us to think about the difficulties of integration, equality, and disequilibrium in the contemporary society.
N.I.C.E: New Independent Curatorial Experience presented seven exhibitions conceived by young curators, who selected the artists through a call for projects.

L’ombra della luce was an example of exhibition that included a series of work by Ugo Ricciardi, where the dark became the privileged space in which to set up histories of fantasy. In his photographs, a star has decided to leave the sky and reach the inhabited woods during the full moon nights. In these Nightscapes, there was a reflection on the silence of the nature that is, here, touched by the sound of the light. While in the exhibition Infanzia Interrotta, a work by Graziano Russo, Lathe biosas, the adults occupied the children spaces inverting the common perspective. Well-dressed people observed their past games, now sublime forces that overcame them.
G@P – Galleries at Paratissima was an autonomous sector of the fair dedicated to art galleries, while ICS (Independent Curated Spaces) was thought to be a space for the artists who wanted to have a solo show or to realize a collective exhibition in bigger spaces. With a rich program of talks, project presentations, a food tasting event and talks, Paratissima confirmed again its inclusive planning aptitude.

Spread throughout the entire city, there were also other independent projects, chosen by the scientific board of NESXT, an interdisciplinary project that was born in 2016. NESXT is a growing network, a next observatory on the future art practices, and a nest, ready to welcome all the newborn characters of the contemporary art system. This independent art festival wants to let the emerging scene speak. Experimentation, collective research, territory engagement, fields interaction, and nomadism are the keywords of this project of scattered experiences. The experimental approach of NESXT brought a new life back to the city space, as all the projects were hosted by local realities that have allowed these guests to talk to a different public. Independent projects have declared a further independence from their usual environments, scattering the premises of a traditional art fair. The two projects that our editorial staff was able to see have been Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio, hosted by officina500 and viadellafucina16 condominio-museo. The exhibition Jollies conceptualized by Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio was a group show composed by a symphony of carnivalesque objects, which narrated the tension against counterfeiting, concealing, creating a mystery about identity or personality. Ambiguous forms inhabited the space creating a dialogue continuously. From October 31st, several initiatives animated the space of viadellafucina16 condominio-museo, the first international experiment of condominium-museum, where notions of public and private domain meet. This democratic, but also conflictual, space opens its space to promote sharing, exchange, and diversity. The apex of these days of public presentation was during the night of the contemporary arts on Saturday the 4th, when all the art galleries of Turin were open to the public with special projects or new exhibitions. The condominium-museum offered a performative marathon that involved all the spaces of the building.

Made in Mind Magazine has had the opportunity to see the collaborative and independent project DAMA, that invited emerging international galleries to show the work of two artists, in dialogue with Palazzo Saluzzo. This second edition dedicated a room to two international non-profit spaces that bring on unexceptional researches and, in collaboration with Museo Ettore Fico, there was a new sponsorship award that aims to reward a gallery with free participation.
In a post-industrial space Pinksummer, an art gallery from Genova, presented a collective show, Don’t Look Like a Line, with all the represented artists and some new works of Tomàs Saraceno. The first work encounter was with eud by Alis/Filiol, recently exhibited at Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro in Milan. The never-ending process of their sculpture was amplified by a thick artificial fog, that invaded not only the entrance but also the entire exhibition space. With a specific set-up made by the architects collective Baukuh, the space was completely redefined and it assumed the aspect of a remote island that needed to be explored deeply.

A sweet ending was offered by Associazione Barriera, that hosted a project of Massimo Minini and one of the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti of Turin. Related Things Unrelated Things Related… was built using an unusual method. The artists, Jonathan Monk and Ariel Schlesinger, decided not to consult each other when working towards the exhibition. The aim was to find spontaneous but also forced connections; “a dialogue between the works would have surely been established” claimed the artists. The other room hosted two artists of the Accademia, Alberto Papotto and Mohsen Dajenrehgab, who have had the opportunity to show their young work to an international public who inhabited Turin in this rich and incredibly refreshing weekend of immersions in the contemporary art.
Cornerstone of the entire connections system of the city is the exhibition Like Moth to a Flame, realized together by OGR Torino and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. It is a perfect summary of the role of collecting in Turin, that has always considered the Art, in all its forms, as a public good. The three voices behind this project are Tom Eccles, director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at the Bard College of New York, Mark Rappolt, chief editor of the British magazine Art Review, and the artist Liam Gillick. Three different minds have described a long history through more than seventy works of art and have had the power to connect different institutions, such as the Museo Egizio, Palazzo Madama, MAO – Museo d’Arte Orientale, GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea and Castello di Rivoli. The artworks on display come from different historic periods and establish an unconventional dialogue through each other’s. A big choir composed of many voices that are singing the same song. Collecting as an art form. The general asset of this edition Turin reconfirmed its primacy as a center for the contemporary art in Italy. An innovative format rethought every year and an inclusive attitude that covered again the entire kaleidoscope of the artistic scene.

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