Giunta alla sua decima edizione, la Residenza per Giovani Curatori Stranieri della Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo ha lo scopo di portare in Italia ogni anno tre curatori alle prime armi per permettere loro di sviluppare la professionalità tramite l’esperienza della residenza all’estero e il contatto con una realtà nuova e stimolante. In particolare viene chiesto ai partecipanti di approfondire la scena artistica italiana tramite incontri con professionisti internazionali così come con giovani artisti del nostro Paese, al fine di organizzare una mostra di fine residenza. Il compito di promuovere l’arte contemporanea italiana è stato affidato quest’anno allo svizzero Tenzing Barshee, alla statunitense Molly Everett e alla polacca Dorota Michalska.
I tre giovani curatori portano in scena la mostra Passo Dopo Passo, aperta al pubblico dal 14 maggio al 16 ottobre presso la Fondazione, prendendo in esame opere di epoche diverse, sia storiche come quelle di Depero, Accardi, Ontani e Salvo, sia contemporanee come per i giovani artisti italiani facenti parte della collezione. La mostra non segue un ordine cronologico, ma presenta gli oggetti nella loro autonomia, in parte rispecchiando le esperienze fatte dai curatori nel percorso di formazione caratterizzato da diversi viaggi in Italia durante il periodo della residenza: una penisola, quella italiana, in posizione cruciale da millenni per quanto riguarda le migrazioni di popoli, idee e culture; un aspetto, questo, che viene suggerisce già una prospettiva di interpretazione della mostra.
Di seguito l’intervista ai tre curatori, con le risposte raccolte singolarmente da ognuno di essi.
Giovanna Repetto: After these four months, which is the most interesting feature of italian contemporary art?
Dorota Michalska: That’s a tricky question because I don’t believe in “national” identities when dealing with artworks and artists. Of course some artists are very much connected to their national backgrounds but with the fact of them travelling so much abroad and seeing other artworks from elsewhere they very often challenge what potentially could mean “to be an italian artist”. That’s why I think it makes more sense to talk about local identities and connections. We have seen some very diverse art realities i.e. the ones in Bolzano, Bologna or Catania. Each one of them is in its own way very intense and fascinating. One peculiarity we came across again and again is how much the italian art system is based on private foundations and collectors. This is something very different from the art realities of the countries I have been based in i.e. Sweden and Poland. I feel this also influences very much the art that is produced and how the whole system work.
Molly Everett: Through this brief encounter, I have found the Italian contemporary art scene to be incredibly diverse, much like Italy itself. This, although it sounds paradoxical, is inextricably linked to the specificity of Italy. The weight of history is very present and you can see artists dealing with that, both as a source of inspiration and as a burden. There’s also a deep sense of introspection countered with an ongoing outward gaze. Reflecting upon contemporary political issues, especially related to immigration and the ongoing crisis in Europe, Italian artists are responding with innovative political and aesthetic forms, developed out of specific localities, which is incredibly fascinating and unique.
Tenzing Barshee: To experience how contemporary Italian art is genuinely committed – by either affirmation or negation – to its recent histories, which leads me to realize that the weight and the potential of Italian culture, is both the weight and potential of cultural diffusion.
GR: What about your relationship with the other two curators during this period?
DM: I believe the residency has been very challenging for all three of us. As a group we had our ups and downs but overall I believe we gave our best and managed to learn much from each other. Surprisingly perhaps, we very often had similar opinions and feelings about most of the artists we were meeting. This helped us to develop organically a final exhibition, which we could all be happy with.
ME: We each come from very different backgrounds. All of our experiences, I feel, have allowed for us to learn from and challenge one another, while expanding our own perspectives. Collaborating so closely with Dorota and Tenzing has been truly rewarding and I’ve learned so much from each of them.
TB: I hope that I’ll be able to somehow work with either of one of them again. That includes Lorenzo Balbi who made our experience a truly Italian one.
GR: What’s the meaning of “curator” today for you, and why did you choose this occupation?
DM: I am a bit wary of the question because I feel the role of the curator has been mystified so much over the last decade. Ultimately, I believe the job consists in building up a knowledge about the contemporary art and working consistently with artists. To me it also means letting go of your expectations and instead listen, look, talk without preconceptions or precise expectations.
ME: I am inspired by the ability of a curator to act as a catalyst, navigating borderlines and using new spaces and temporalities to enhance global dialogue. I am intrigued to further explore this nomadic nature inspired by artists, curators, and their exhibitions, by physically and mentally traveling across borders and thereby expanding one’s capacity for translation.
TB: I wonder constantly how one appropriately edits content in a world governed by lists.
GR: Which part/aspect of this specific exhibition mostly comes from you?
DM: 80% of the exhibition has been decided unanimously. The rest 20% we had to negotiate. I am extremely happy we managed to work together so well and overcame any difficulties or divergences. I can honestly say the show is a collective effort. It was a long process and probably wouldn’t have been possible without the fact we have been talking so much about it among ourselves.
ME: We have worked diligently to develop this project together. I’m proud that it’s a reflection of our collective effort.
TB: Passo Dopo Passo stems from a collective effort.
GR: How would you define your curatorial practice, and how will you apply it in the future, after this experience? Any incoming projects?
DM: I am planning to follow up on some artists after the end of the residency. Probably I will try to develop a curatorial project based on this experience in Sweden or Poland. As for future plans – in October I will be moving to London for an MA in Art History at The Courtauld Institute of Art. So intense times ahead!
ME: My curatorial and research interests frequently follow art practices that draw on strategies of appropriation, specifically as they evolve in response to specific sociopolitical factors. This experience as a curatorial resident at the Fondazione Sandretto has been an incredible opportunity to simultaneously broaden my knowledge and understanding of the Italian art scene while further refine my curatorial perspective. I look forward to bringing this experience with me into future projects and research. I also hope to collaborate with individuals I have met and to continue building upon many of these relationships in the future.
TB: I applied to the Young Curator’s Program with a text titled “Losing Control” and our exhibition in Torino is called “Step by Step”. These silly little phrases may stand for some of my ideas of what I care about, when it comes to curating a contemporary art exhibition. I’ll babble some more: “Believe but don’t trust” and “Why democracy?”. In August I will begin a research residency at the Belvedere / 21er Haus in Vienna. I intend to think about these institutions.
Passo Dopo Passo
a cura di Tenzing Barshee, Molly Everett, Dorota Michalska
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino
14 maggio – 16 ottobre 2016