beauty will save…

It took a microorganism to make us aware of a sick reality and stimulate reflections on authentic human values ​​and on a model of sustainable development.

In the current catastrophic context, Art seems to have become ‘useless’, therefore art operators react to reaffirm its potential at least in digital channels, which allow mobility in spaces of relational freedom drastically reduced by the lockdown. Thus the virtual reality of the Web took over the physical one, appropriating the primary functions of cultural institutions and events of all kinds. At the same time – in order to find quick solutions to the problems that emerged and to survive in tomorrow’s “normality” certainly poorer and riskier than yesterday’s – the utmost importance is given to the role of science and creative energy, to multidisciplinarity and international cooperation.

Personally, on printed “Juliet”, since last year, involving heterogeneous personalities, I have promoted “Disciplinary interaction. From visual art to global society” and now I am also developing the complementary investigation, entitled “Creative production and identity”, which began before the arrival of the Coronavirus. In the next issue of the magazine the second episode will come out with extensive testimonies of Achille Bonito Oliva, Gian Ruggero Manzoni and Alfredo Pirri. Thanks to the collaboration of the latter, the image of the cover was reproduced here, previewed with an excerpt from the interview regarding the critical-explanatory reading of the subject.

Luciano Marucci: We are talking about the image created for the cover of “Juliet”. Let me start by saying that it is not a matter of paying homage to a deadly viral being classified Covid-19. On the contrary: it highlights its unstoppable self-generating power to expand everywhere, even challenging science. It has the appearance of a humanoid body with a seductive and at the same time malevolent pictorial-plastic side. It stimulates the observer in search of the “genesis and evolution” of its symbolic form, which refers to the concept of my investigation focused on “Creative production and identity”. Therefore, we are faced with an enigmatic performative virtual subject that tends to interact with users, mortally contaminating them.

Alfredo Pirri e Luciano Marucci “la bellezza salverà…” 2020, digital processing,
26,5 x 21 cm

Alfredo Pirri: Dear Luciano, first of all I would like to say more explicitly that this cover is a four-handed work of which we are both authors, and I thank you for having involved me. You asked me to work with the image of the virus (one of the many that circulate), I found it interesting because its “beauty” had already struck me. My contribution was very simple: treat the image in a somewhat home-like way, that is, using the tools I have at hand, at home, these days, and then superimpose on it a famous writing, often cited to give art a vision positive and full of hope …; the relationship between sentence and image is mysterious …, the sentence confirms the beauty of the image, but also affirms its danger … The whole is ambiguous and without affirmations: two question marks that are confirmed and canceled at the same time.

Can you briefly describe how the artifact was built in your occasional digital laboratory?
As I said, in a direct and simple way, I let the image speak for itself, without my intervention transforming it “creatively” much. The summary images of the circulating virus have focused heavily on color and spatial evocation. Perhaps to make us better understand how the virus is everywhere and the colors probably serve scientists to select the sectors of which it is composed. The result of these representations has something terribly beautiful and evokes familiar figures, humans or beings living in the water … Figures that upset us because they make us think that our bodies are inhabited by other creatures and that the whole is terribly seductive and also terribly difficult to accept.

The Milan Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti NABA expands out to Rome

Luciano Marucci: Is the opening of the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome the demonstration that, by expanding into other locations, the Institute aims to put in place programs connected to the territory in order to participate with renewed commitment in a collective cultural and social development?
Marco Scotini: Over the past few years, NABA has achieved a great amount in terms of both numbers and quality. Not only has it gone from two hundred to more than four thousand students, but it has established its name and is now seen as the pre-eminent school within the creative field. In particular, the Visual Arts Department (that I run), has positioned itself at an international level over time, despite its numerically small size. We’ve been the first to include curation in the study program and to broaden the teaching field to the entire contemporary art system with two-year courses, masters and seminars and the rotation of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Charles Esche, Ute Meta Bauer and Hou Hanru, WHW and Victor Misiano. One of the many episodes that comes to mind is when, during Documenta 13, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev invited us to participate in the educational program as one of the best, international schools. Also, last year, the Boston MIT selected us, with four other great schools, to the Architectural Biennale in relation to the subject Art-Ecology. The choice of opening premises in Rome, in the historic Garbatella area, has been thought about for the past few years and is being achieved under the guidance of Galileo Global Education. It will not be part of any larger expansion for the time being. For us, Rome is extremely important because it is a city that complements Milan under many aspects and, together, they represent the epicenters of Italian culture. As an Art Academy, we have participated as leaders and have assisted in the recent, great transformation of Milan into a model of international, cultural growth. Let’s see what happens in Rome.

What projects in particular will materialize in the capital? There’s no doubt that an anti-academic academy was missing from the Roman environment…
Of course, NABA is not an academy in the usual sense of the word. This has been the case since its origins in 1980 when it aimed to invent itself as an alternative to Brera, immediately opening itself up to a plurality of subjects. However, the great leap forward was achieved during the last fifteen years when NABA moved from the Viale Zara (towards Monza) area to the historic Navigli quarter. Here it became a sort of international symbol of excellence. The Rome location is not considered as a branch of the Milan one but as something that is added and integrated at one and the same time, creating a mobility for students between the two locations. Naturally, Rome offers different opportunities with respect to Milan: advantages that will be applied, straight away, to the teaching values and training offers. Rome is the historic location of the great international Academies that hark back to the period of the Grand Tour so it will be important for us to take on board and accept the challenges that these presented.

Has the training offer already been defined or will this take place during the teaching journey? Will the choice of teaching staff be based on the quality and flexibility of the theoretical lines and practices of the three-year courses?
We have decided, in the meantime, to begin with three-year courses in Visual Arts, Communications and Graphic Design, Media and Fashion Design. We have left out Design (Product and Interior), with respect to our official program, due to the reduced presence of companies in this sector in Rome. Courses will start next October with the new academic year 2019-‘20. Despite our characteristically Milanese aspect, we’re still up for experimenting with everything. As a consequence, we’re not starting out with a pre-established plan to be exported and applied. This would end up being both reductive and ‘colonial’. Such an approach is very far from our intentions and we believe that the NABA premises in Rome will need to self-build within a precise context, beginning with a dialogue weth it. We’ll be playing on the differences, rather than the similarities, with respect to Milan.

Will the transdisciplinary approach that characterizes NABA be the platform for the various, future activities? Where will the students find the stimulus for a better creative expression?
As regards to the initial examples, NABA has multiplied and branched out the teaching offer and the disciplines within it. As just one example: far from considering an art school simply in terms of training artists, our department has opened up to publishing, to markets, to curation, to cultural mediation. We see the school not only as a place for learning but also as a production site so the most important, international professionals in the system must work side by side with our students. Today, the flexibility of measuring oneself over various fields is a prerequisite for every work and creative activity. The osmosis between the artist and the curator is at the heart of our two-year course and the correctness of this assumption has also been evidenced by the most recent appointment for Documenta 2022 where the curator is represented by a collective of Indonesian artists.

Does the professional learning that is acquired facilitate inclusion in the world of work?
I believe that two elements have always characterized us, at least within the field of the visual arts: the first is the fact of considering the academy as a production site that permits the student to operate, in real time, within the professional system. The second is the qualitative richness of the faculty and the visiting professors (if you think of figures such as Hito Steyerl, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Tim Rollins and the many others who have passed through here over the past ten years). Furthermore, a fundamental part for us, for the purposes of translating what we transmit in the classroom into practice, is collaboration with organizations and the realization of large projects. Specifically, the last chapter has seen us involved with two important projects in China on the occasion of the first Anren and the second Yinchuan Biennales. It is no coincidence that our ex-students are now amongst the artists either in the emergent Italian art scene or already established in it.

The collaboration with the MAXXI, from which the LA STRADA. Dove is crea il mondo exhibition derived, with performances by Adrian Paci, Massimo Bartolini and Lin Yilin, served to consolidate a prestigious synergy and revealed a reciprocal interest for the involvement of the public in many senses. Also, the pairing with the exhibition inside the museum structure – excellently curated by the artistic director Hou Hanru – as well as providing an original format, balanced out the ephemeral aspect of “street” interventions.
The idea of intervening at the MAXXI was thought up together with the artistic director Hou Hanru who has been part of the Visual Arts NABA Advisory Board for many years. It is also significant that we chose MAXXI as the first institution with whom to meet in our move to Rome. Adrian Paci’s performance, One and Twenty-One Chairs, enacted a ritual of hospitality by means of which students from Milan and from Rome met. Adrian Paci and Massimo Bartolini are two of the teachers on the B.A. and M.A. courses and are very important both nationally and internationally. Libera Improvvisazione by Giuseppe Chiari, a work produced at the Museo Pecci in the by now distant 1990, was re-proposed by Bartolini through a concert with a body of seventy musicians (professional and improvised) opened by an important pianist such as Giancarlo Cardini. But this was just the start. There are a great many other things being planned for the future.

edited by Luciano Marucci
translated by Nicola Rudge
April 17 th, 2019

Marco Scotini, NABA Visual Arts Department Head

NABA RomaNABA new Campus in Rome (courtesy NABA; ph F. Fioramonti)

Adrian Paci “One and 21 Chairs”, a moment of the ‘convivial performance’ in the MAXXI square in Rome, where on March 21, 2019 each of those present had brought a chair (courtesy the Artist and NABA; ph F. Fioramonti)

NABA RomaMassimo Bartolini “Free Improvisation” by Giuseppe Chiari performed in 1990, reenacted in the performance in front of MAXXI on March 21, 2019 with an orchestra of seventy professional musicians and improvisers (courtesy the Artist and NABA; ph F. Fioramonti)

NABA RomaLin Yilin “Safety Manœuvre across linhe Road” 1995, still from video exhibited in the show “THE STREET. Where the World is Made” ( “Interventions” section), MAXXI, Rome (courtesy the Artist and MAXXI)

NABA RomaChto Delat “Angry Sandwich People” 2006, still from video included in the exhibition “THE STREET. Where the World is Made” (“Streets Politics” section), MAXXI, Rome (courtesy the Artist, Kow Berlino and MAXXI)

Pistoletto Father and Son face to face

Michelangelo Pistoletto is certainly one of the most appreciated Italian artists at international level thanks to the originality of the language, the quality of the creations and the engaging operations he carried out with extraordinary socio-cultural and ethical commitment.

With the exhibition Ettore Olivero Pistoletto – Michelangelo Pistoletto. Father and Son, curated by Alberto Fiz, which will be presented in Milan (Villa Necchi Campiglio) on March 19th, open from April 19th to October 13th in Biella (Palazzo Gromo Losa and Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto) and Trivero (Casa Zegna) – he wanted to revisit some moments of the relationship with his father that gave rise to his intense artistic activity. In the interview that follows he explained, as a preview, the motivations useful to outline the deepest identity of his multiform work.

A second part – which touches on other fundamental aspects of his ever expanding and ever-current work – will appear in the next paper issue of “Juliet”, which will be released in early June.

Luciano Marucci: Does the Father and Son exhibition, in addition to identifying the particular ties with your father, also take on a symbolic value in an ethical sense?
Michelangelo Pistoletto: Of course! I would say that there is a strong bond in an ethical and aesthetic sense: an aesthetic transmission of the art and ethics of the inter-human relationship.

In addition to offering intriguing visual materials, does it stimulate a reflection on certain values ​​of the past necessary to nourish the present and to progress?
For me the relationship with the past is important; all my work is based on art as a representation. I took from my father the ability to understand figurative art and I continued on this line. But there is a huge difference between the work of my father, who was a pre-photographer, because he did a figurative painting before the crisis brought by photography, and mine that retrieves photography after what has happened with the modern movement. And it is precisely the space of modernity that brings us together, despite the distance of all modern history. I think the exhibit presents similarities and dissimilarities; a recovery of the father through the need for a conjunction between a great past and a possible future.

How much did the study of the past affect your artistic practice?
Very very much; not only through the paternal teaching, but also with the restoration of the ancient paintings that allowed me to know technically, as well as visually, the various ages of history. But techno also gave me the opportunity to switch the work to a technology that I developed myself.

What happened to your father’s archive?
When my father passed away, I bought from his widow – because at seventy he had remarried – twenty works that, in my opinion, are the most important of the father-son relationship, the ones he made starting in 1968, when I started to follow my advice.

But the deepest inheritance is in the DNA and is preserved in the memory.
The memory in my mirror paintings coexists with a present that is constantly renewed. For me, memory is photography that, with the mirroring background, creates an always different duality; a present moment that becomes past and becomes memory. Present, past and future are three elements that coexist in my works. Working with my father is in some ways to make the reflection of time almost ideological.

Do you think that the exhibition can help to better define your identity as a man and an artist?
I think so. I develop more and more the concept of a non-self-referential artist, but of an activator of relationships that at this moment I carry on with the Third Paradise, with the idea of ​​duality that produces new situations. The first paradise, the natural one; the second, the artificial one; together they generate the third. It is the conjunction of the two elements that creates the third situation. Society is formed by connecting different people and situations, therefore, to create a new world not only individuality is needed, but also duality.

After all, you wanted to create a sort of ideal retrospective that starts from your roots.
It seemed interesting to me to start from the beginning and to establish a link between past and future. For example, I took a picture that my father had made of me when I was three months old and made it a self-portrait through my father. I saw it as a possibility – when I had no ability to understand or to carry out a work – that my father did it for me. My father as a mirror and, at the same time, as a hand that allows me to see myself through him.

Does the connection between the two re-visited epochs, materialized by an unusual exhibition format, fit into the transformative philosophy of your work? On the representative side, what did you privilege?
In the exhibition there are both my father’s and mine’s works, but also various photographic documents. It is the story of a life; an album where the documents of real life are linked with those of the works. In one photograph you see my mother holding me when I was three months old and a painting painted by my father in the background. I managed to retrieve it and exposed it alongside the photograph. It is a document of life that has become part of this exhibition, which in itself can be configured as a work.

What is the difference between this exhibition and the 1973 one in Turin?
In 1973 there were some works that my father had painted for the occasion with mirrored containers in which he could see his image reflected in the objects. Then there were my paintings. In this exhibition, instead, I wanted to trace a historical path, from the Thirties to the present.

Does it underline an interaction between the subjective and the objective self-portrait of the world?
Exact! That’s right.

In your current work, characterized by responsible actions for changing society through creative ideas and projects, is there any reference to the socio-political and cultural situation of the present situation?
Everything is related to the socio-political situation. The actuality of the work of Cittadellarte consists in putting young people in relationship with the school, with the university and also with the common people to develop knowledge, the awareness of the present moment and, at the same time, find a modus operandi that we call the “democratic”.

Are you trying to stay out of the political context by invoking the potential of Culture?
Political politics is in crisis, but at Cittadellarte we do not do political action. We work to formulate proposals. Creation is “proposed”, not just “critical”. But the proposal is not implemented directly in today’s political sense that requires change. We are working on a different vision from the current one with practical definitions, not just ideals.

In your case, is intelligence an essential catalyst for the creative process?
Intelligence is the engine of human beings, the basis of everything. It is clear that it must be considered according to two fundamental points: emotion and reason. Emotion without reason is even dangerous; the same can be said for reason. In the Third Paradise the trinamic symbol means that two external elements are always needed: the two circles, which must be composed in the center to give life to a new situation.

So yours is not an art for art.
It is not absolutely self-referential; it is phenomenological. My entire work can be considered scientific.

But what is it that makes you stay topical?
Give the best of myself for the us.


March 7th, 2019
edited by Luciano Marucci

Michelangelo Pistoletto“Self-portrait” by Ettore Olivero Pistoletto, painted in 1958; alongside a photographic portrait of his son Michelangelo made by Piero Martinello (courtesy Archivio Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella)

Michelangelo Pistoletto in his home in Cittadellarte (courtesy Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; ph Pierluigi Di Pietro)

Michelangelo PistolettoMichelangelo Pistoletto, “Upside down furniture”, 1976 (courtesy Archivio Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; ph Archivio Pistoletto)

Michelangelo Pistoletto, “The drawing in the mirror”, 1979 (courtesy Archivio Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; ph Archivio Pistoletto)

View of a hall of Cittadellarte with the works of M. Pistoletto (courtesy Archivio Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; ph Eleonora Angius)

Michelangelo Pistoletto, “Girl taking a picture”, 1962-2007 (courtesy Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella; ph Pierluigi Di Pietro)

William Kentridge and his archive-laboratory

This online edition offers the possibility of sharing William Kentridge’s contribute to my written panel into the role of the private archives of creatives which was published in the last printed issue of “Juliet”, along with other authoritative testimonies and an introductory text which motivates the new service. Furthermore, it gives the possibility, to those who wish, to listen to his answers in English and to visualize more images.
For this panel I have contacted this genial artist again, because, in addition to being a leading player amongst the most active and representative protagonists of the international art scene, he makes his own archive a laboratory of experimental creativity, from which a multimedia production of high aesthetic and ethical quality derives.

It is to be remembered that Kentridge makes tradition and innovation, historical and contemporary culture, claiming and transcendence; traditional and new technologies; visual arts, literature, cinema, music, dance, theatre, installation, performance et al interact cleverly. A mix of components able to involve the viewers in a multi-sensory, poetic and emotional sense, stimulating a deep reflection on the socio-economic, cultural and political reality of our times. Thus his spiritual and material mission acquires a universal value.
The main source of his work, aristocratic and popular, is the past and present human condition in South Africa (where he lives and works), but he also addresses, always with strong civil commitment, a wider range of issues, not only geographically speaking, such as inequality and injustice, marginalization and slavery of yesterday and today, and wars which cause disastrous consequences.
In the following interview – released by an audio file in the aftermath of the world premier inauguration of his complex performance at the enormous Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London – he reveals unpublished aspects of the archival practice and his operating method

William Kentridge [who answers by audio file]: This is a message from Kentridge to Luciano Marucci This is from my studio in Johannesburg on a cold Thursday evening the 19 July 2018.
Your questions about the archive are much too estrous for me. I’m happy to keep the questions as they are and put them in a file of raw material to use when doing the project about artists interrogating themselves about things they don’t understand and, as such, this list of questions will become part of my archive, but perhaps it’s useful if I just talk for a few minutes to you about my sense of the archive. So the first layer of my archive is in 3 places. It’s in cardboard boxes which have old photographs. I guess, from the 1990s and backwards when I used to print out photographs that are a mixture of personal photographs, sometimes things cut out of newspapers, photographs I have taken myself that were printed to postcard size, some black and white photographs and next to them is a set of drawers which have different phrases on different pages of books that I’ve used in different projects. These sit in the studio as a kind of constant source of raw material and in that sense they’re both an archive of projects that have been done in the studio: my archive as an artist which, as you say, is of interest to curators now but also an external archive which I raid when working on new projects for phrases, for words.
The second element of the archive is a shelf which has all the notebooks which are for the last many years a uniform black Moleskine notebook in which there are some drawings, but mainly texts and notes and phrases which have amassed over the years on which I’m working on the whole time and there often again they form a record of the work as an archive of things made in the studio, but also as raw material to be paged through and raided for different projects – many words from one project migrate to another. It used to be until recently that going to the archive to hunt for things meant going to the library and paging through books which either I would do or one of my studio assistants would do. Now it almost always means just trawling through the internet. I need an Italian gas mask from 1915; instead of hunting through whole books, about the First World War, I put in “Italian gas mask from 1915” and 4.000 images come up on Google, so as a resourceful reference images, I use the internet a lot, but that archive disappears – images from that never become part of my archive ‘cos they’re glimpsed on the screen. Occasionally I would print out an image but by and large they would disappear into the cloud and become as impersonal as anything, so the traces which are still physical, sketches of notes, of family photos or other photos I’ve taken as references for work have a very different quality as an archive and so I do understand when curators get interested in that trace of the pre-digital in the work. I’m not sure how much this directly affects whether I’m working in multidisciplinary ways or not. The resources that I raid range obvionsly from listening to music, to reading news items, to reading academic articles to hunting for images; it certainly gets thinned out by using the internet, in that one is less likely to come across something that has nothing to do with your subject but which is on the next page of an encyclopedia which you might get caught by.

Question 4: Is it the place where you practice the inventive hybridization of interactive multimedia techniques?
Absolutely not. That gets done in the studio. The archive is a set, it’s maybe two shelves in the studio which would get taken out of the box, put on the table and so into the studio, and till it’s visible and handy for me it doesn’t feel that it’s entered into the process of making, except in a distant way, in the sense of knowing there are books that cover these topics. When I work on a new project, generally I find a lot of books either in my library in the house and bring them into the studio, covering the Russian Revolution, the First World War books that I’ve read for other purposes which for the duration of the project come into the studio and I guess form an archive of what we are looking at, with the other people in the project and they’ll get put back in the library when the projects finished. And the hybridization of which I presume in the many different forms at work whether it’s music, or dance, or drawing or projection is the work of the studio; it’s the work of the performers and participants and collaborators and musicians the dancers rather than an archive; well although we may look to the archive for details, or reference to how a dance was done or what a music sounded like.

Question 6: Currently are the elements necessary to create multifaceted themed works taken mostly from your rich physical documentation and from everyday experience or from the Web?
It’s a mixture, it’s a mixture of things which are found on the web, but the most recent project about Africa in the First World War” [The Head & The Load, performance on South-Africans during W.W.1 held last July, Turbine Halle, Tate Modern. London] we found some images of carriers as a reference on the web but the history of the First World War was mainly on books, one or two articles on the web, a lot of visual references; yes, if I needed to see what the face of John Chilembwe [Baptist pastor and educator (1871-19015), an early figure in the resistance to colonialism, celebrated in Malawi on January 15 as a hero of independence] looked like, I would find that on the web, so yes it’s definitely an important part of it. I know that some curators are interested in the physical objects that artists have surrounded themselves by and part of my piles of photos and notebooks that I’ve described  have infact gone out to an exhibition, but I hope they’ll come back and sit on the shelves where they should. I’m not sure if this answers your questions about the place of the archive.

Question 1: Do the documentation and the collective memories that you use for your works tend to teach observers to reflect on the socio-cultural reality of the present and to imagine the future?
I’ve no idea, you would have to answer that.

Question 2: Can they also stimulate new ideas?
The artwork does, whether it’s the archive or the documentation doing it I couldn’t say. The documentation is important for the artwork and the artwork is important for people to make a connection to what’s being shown to them.
Ok. I hope this answers some of your questions and that it gives you enough information about the archive.
It’s been very nice talking to you and I wish you good evening.

curated by Luciano Marucci

(Transcription from audio recording in English by Serena Fioravanti sent from Anne McIlleron of the William Kentridge Studio)

[The Italian text is also included in “Estetica ed Etica degli Archivi Privati. Il ruolo della documentazione fisica in era digitale”, “Juliet” art magazine n. 189, pp. 34-43, October-November 2018. To listen to the artist’s answers in English activate the audio file.]

William Kentridge, “Double ports”, 12-2013

Drawings for “Tango for Page Turning”, 2013 (detail)

Working table in William Kentridge’s Johannesburg studio, 2010

William Kentridge working with Gerhard Marx on sculptures for the film “Return”, 2008

WK, “Self-Portrait as a Coffee Pot”, 2012

Workshop for “The Head & the Load, Johannesburg”, 2017 (ph Stella Olivier)

Art and Architecture of listening with Mario Cucinella

From serial panel discussion I have been conducting on Urban Art in the bimonthly print edition of “Juliet” art magazine, here below is the part of the interview with the archistar Mario Cucinella – who is an innovative and civilly active professional from Bologna – on the relationship between architecture and contemporary art, and on the Italian Pavilion of the upcoming International Architecture Exhibition – the Venice Biennial – which will be curated by him. In February 2017, in a conversation focused on his project for the new Centro Arti e Scienze Golinelli di Bologna (Arts and Sciences Centre of Bologna), he had already stated: «The architect’s role is divided between the visual arts world and the science world. Building is an art but at the same time it implies knowledge of a scientific nature. The artist has a liberating force because he has the ability to express himself without rules, without obstacles. I do a slightly different job: through an artistic thought I tackle the material, the transformation of the idea. The challenge of architecture is this: being progressive to become a great means of communication. For example, dictators understood it very well and they used it, and still do, as an instrument of conviction. Architecture in its relationship with the social world is powerful. It must improve people’s lives not affirm power, but the opening of our time. In France it is considered the first manifestation of culture. In this evaluation is hidden the threat of culture in our Country. I try to use architecture as a form of expression that is not only artistic, but literary, of a more social nature, etc. I like the beauty of the word “culture”, the one that Pasolini used».
And with regards to his interest in contemporary art, Cucinella pointed out: «I follow the artists who express themselves in different ways and who I call “sensitive sensory artists”. I think of Joseph Beuys, founder of the Verdi movement in Germany. Therefore from artistic sensitivity politics can be born. Contemporary art is not only for art’s sake but it also helps us overcome daily alienation. It is the only area of true freedom in a life that is not always what we would have liked. In order that architecture and art can be an expression of the society, a close link between them should be born. It is not a coincidence that in the countries where creativity is cultivated, architecture and art manifest themselves at their best and there is the greatest growth of GDP. Unfortunately, where profit is the priority, we have produced the social disaster of inequalities; instead of growing in a more united society, we find ourselves more and more divided. Perhaps art can generate phenomena that can help us solve certain problems».
This is the text of the telephone dialogue of April 9th:

Luciano Marucci: Is there generally a structural or conceptual relationship between the projects of your Studio and contemporary art? I am thinking in particular of the interactive aspects of fruition and function.
Mario Cucinella: It would be interesting to do more projects that relate to the world of art and architecture, because the latter, after all, has an artistic content. As a whole it is a kind of substantial education that has always had a connection with the art world in history. Think about how much of the architecture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is related to sculptures and frescoes. Art has always been an activity that has, in some ways, enriched the work of architects. Today we discover that, without the law of 2% of investments in public works, too little is done; whereas the link between architecture and the world of art should be more consistent, because we are aware that the essential part of artistic education is missing. A problem which can be found all over the world.

In architectural projects of urban centres, in addition to the redevelopment of suburban areas, would it be logical and possible to provide spaces to be destined for young people to increase creativity?
I think so. At the moment the artistic accomplishments outdoors are the beginning of a problem, but it is my conviction that we need to invest many resources to help the young artists to form themselves and find new paths. The artist, in the broadest sense of the word, is a person who can tell things, who can leave a mark even in everyday life. Having given too much thought on designing a rational world has led us to forget that art has a fundamental function; that in a contemporary city, spaces must be reserved for young people. I think of abandoned areas that could become extraordinary places in which to develop the conditions so they could better express their potential. Creativity is a tool that needs to be enhanced, the most important issue in the coming years, even on the theme of urban regeneration, of which we talk too much in functional terms, when instead we should adopt a peaceful attitude.

Would certain places possibly diminish the wild interventions damaging historical or prestigious buildings and could they also represent a tourist attraction?
Absolutely. Vandalism is the expression of distress. So the abandoned industrial areas, close to the city, could be upgraded so that they could become creativity hubs. I think of a large vacant factory near Beijing, in an area of one kilometer per kilometer, where artists who use different languages have their studios, where exhibitions can be seen and there is also a factory. The place has become a tourist attraction. We should take that step to offer the new generations the opportunity to build a network of relationships with the art world.

What is your idea of relational architecture?
For me this theme is related to listening policies. We need to listen more to the people who live in cities, in the suburbs, because – as I was saying – architecture is a very, very powerful tool and, if we work badly, we do great damage. On the other hand, if we listen to people, architects could find the right solutions to the problems of everyday life and make buildings that have a civil sense. This would make the difference.

Did you express this concept in the project for the Italian Pavilion of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – the Venice Biennale which will open on May 26th?
Yes, for ARCIPELAGO ITALIA. Progetti per il futuro dei territori interni del Paese (Projects for the future of the inland territories of the Country) a group of six teams of young architects, together with expert designers, including the famous group “Ascolto Attivo”, has been formed. The proposed projects, in fact, were born from a dialogue with the communities. The architects have listened to the needs and requirements of the inhabitants and have designed projects which match their wishes. I believe that at the Biennial we tell a non-romantic, not pathetic story, in which the architect’s role is decisive. Since politics is far from listening, architects can represent a great opportunity for politics itself.

In which places did the meetings occur?
We decided to work on five “Progetti sperimentali” (“Experimental Projects”): in Gibellina, in the Valle del Belice, Sicily, with the intervention in the unfinished theatre of Pietro Consagra; in the Ottana plain, Sardinia; in Camerino, in the Marche region, in the area hit by the 2016-2017 earthquake; then a project was also carried out with the schools of Matera for the Ferrandina and Grassano rail yards. We will conclude by going to the Casentinesi Forests as far as Cesena.

April 9th, 2018
(translated by Massimo Guidotti)
edited by Luciano Marucci

The architect Mario Cucinella (courtesy MC A, Bologna)

Studio MC Architects, Bologna (courtesy MC A, Bologna; ph Giovanni De Sandre)

Mario Cucinella Architects, 3M Italia Headquartiers (new location, front view), Pioltello (MI), 2008-2010 (courtesy MC A, Bologna; ph Daniele Domenicali)

Mario Cucinella Architects, Centre for sustainable Energy Technologies (veduta generale), 2008-2016, Ningbo, Cina (courtesy MC A, Bologna; ph Daniele Domenicali)

Tesa 2, Sala dell’Arcipelago, Italian Pavilion International Architectural Biennial, Venice 2018, Render staff Mario Cucinella (courtesy MC A, Bologna)

The plurisensorial performances of Isabel Lewis

My panel debate on new technologies and the creatives’ immaginative possibilities as for the future, being published by “Juliet” paper edition, see peronalities representing various fields participating. In the third installment there will also be the contribution of Isabel Lewis – a polyhedric artist of international stature, originally from Santo Domingo but now living in Berlin – who expresses herself with maximum extension of body language, employing also multimedial devices and with the onlookers totally involved.  All sustained by deep philosophical thoughts. I found it well timed to present a preview of the interview with Lewis, for the online readers. In it the artist reveals in advance the characteristics of the art project she will perform next June in the Messeplatz in Basel during the prestigious Art Basel:

Can the new technologies stimulate the imagination and encourage the artistic invention?
Technology has been and always will be a tool and that tool signals back to the body that created it and is created by it in a process that mediates the human exchange with the world. As Donna Haraway says in Simians, Cyborgs and Women, “Our bodies are the product of the tool-using adaptation that predates the genus Homo.”. The way I see it our relation with technology is an integrated part of who we are and who we will become and so artistic invention too seems part of this evolutionary process.

In your opinion, can the most sensitive and intuitive visual operators, who responsibly contribute to the building of the reality we live in, let us have glimpses of plausible future scenarios?
I like your evocation of sensitivity and intuition here as I think it suggests other kinds of vision beyond the mechanism of sight that we have unequivocally valued as the supreme faculty of knowledge acquisition in our current Western culture. You as well evoke a sense of accountability and responsibility held by producers of reality in the process of creation that for me extends beyond the space circumscribed by the modern notion of “art”. Reality is produced in many kinds of registers and in many overlapping spheres including that of the home, of economy, of science, of governance, of sociality. I sense an optimism in your question that I share and I believe these sites are ripe for change and that they can in time with effort and care be modified, renovated, infused with another kind of spirit or system of value and can thus resonate new meanings for us and reveal possible futures. I think the 21st century is about rehabilitating our integrated human sensorium with the potential through practice to even cultivate extrasensory faculties. There are precedents in pre-Enlightenment Europe of advanced qualitative understandings of the world before the unmitigated shift to the quantitative understandings of the scientific worldview that necessitated the disparagement of all other forms of knowing and that ripped us away from communion with our cosmos and all contained therein in the interest of distanced and disinterested “objectivity”. For me these qualitative and quantitative modalities are not mutually exclusive and future is about mixing them in order to expand our repertoire of ways of knowing and ways of caring that can extend to our relations with things beyond the categorical distinction of our species.

I remember your composite and evocative performance held in October 2014 in London, where you had realized, in the empty environment, a convivial garden staging, with your dynamic and vocal exhibition, plants, electronic equipments and furniture and onlookers. Do the new media continue to play an important role in your artistic activity?
Playing with and testing formats continues to be important to my practice. For me experimentation with format is key to opening new fields of possibility with alternative value systems that can tell the new stories that are needed to understand our current conditions and become more cognizant of our particular agency within them. I don’t mean to suggest that new stories can’t be told an existing format such as the exhibition but each format does circumscribe a particular ordering of the sensible and I have the feeling that if a story proposes an alternative ordering within a hegemonic ordering of the sensible it remains always and only reactionary thus inadvertently reifies that order rather than actually disrupting or altering it.

Do your performances want to create multimedial relational places? Do the technological media used have the function of enhancing your bodily actions with vocalizations associated with music and sounds, helping to stimulate spectators in more ways?
I think hybridity and kinship with the technological is the condition of our being and thus not something particularly remarkable however I do think we have the bad habit in our current culture of delineating stark boundaries onto conditions conceptualized as stable where gradients or degrees of difference in ongoing processes would be more appropriate. We tend to think dialectically about nature versus technology, the organic and the inorganic, life and nonlife, and so on and so forth. I feel I don’t so much as create multi-relational spaces with my performances since we are in multi-relational space all the time but I do work to generate conditions that draw out more salient awareness of those relations, more felt understandings rather than purely intellectual understandings of that condition of intradependence with the inhabitants of our ecosphere. To try to do this it’s important to me to compose the work in a way that addresses all of the senses, that calls upon the bodily engagement of the guests in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways.

Are the technologies an integral part of your multi-sensory performative language, tending to establish a profound symbiosis between modernity of the artificial world and the vitality of the natural one?
Yes, technologies are an integral and integrated-not exceptional-part of my performative language. Symbiosis is an interesting concept, difference existing in close association, however I wouldn’t draw the line of difference where you do when you circumscribe the modern artificial world and the vital natural world since I don’t think nature exists outside of our constructed understanding of it. Nature as such is an artificial creation of modernity. I would draw the line of difference between the always only temporarily stable known and the constant unknowable that are indeed in profound symbiosis all the time.

Is the ultimate goal to stimulate freer human behaviors, intimately connected to the plants present on the scene?
Hmm, difficult to say… not sure I have a clear ultimate goal as it’s pretty tough for me to think in terms of producing a finite result with the very processual nature of my work, but stimulating a connection with other beings such as plants sounds good! And I guess I’m more concerned with more contingent, more affected human behaviors than “freer” behaviors per se.

Are you already thinking about the relational installation that you will realize at Messeplatz in Basel with Lara Almarcegui and Recetas Urbanas Architectural Studio of Santiago Cirugeda during the next edition of Art Basel? I suppose you will make extensive use of technological media to increase the interaction with the big audience.
Yes, my work on Messeplatz is very much in process right now. I am researching and getting to know the city of Basel and its citizens beyond what it becomes during the art fair which has been my primary relation to the place until recently. When I stand on Basel’s Messeplatz I have to ask myself who is the “public” addressed by this public space? It evokes in me questions of belonging and identification, alienation and disorientation and I imagine the soft flesh of bodies and the actions they produce while desiring, striving, meeting and making contact with one another against the urban landscape. I will certainly use amplified sound at times to create a sense of place, to in some way frame and provide a sense of enclosure that is still open and porous but also grounding and focusing for those within the area of the Messeplatz that are participating in the work. In a public space with so much transit and activity there are many different temporalities coinciding, so many time frames and temporal systems colliding in any single moment of now. This is very exciting for me! I am looking forward to introducing other specific kinds of activity onto the Messeplatz that add to this asynchrony and create yet other temporal modalities with the participation of the Baselers I am working with as well as the public that engages with the work.

April 9th, 2018
curated by Luciano Marucci

Isabel Lewis (courtesy the Artist; ph Jonas Holthaus)

Isabel Lewis in performance “Wrap” (courtesy the Artist; ph Joanna Seitz)

Isabel Lewis, “Strange Action”, 2010, performance with Josep Maynou at the Space in New York (courtesy the Artist; ph Arturo Martinez Steele)

Isabel Lewis, performance, October 15th, 2014, Old Selfridges Hotel in London (collaboration ICA and Liverpool Biennial) for Frieze Art Fair (courtesy the Artist; ph L. Marucci)

Isabel Lewis, “Occasion”, performance at Chart Art Fair 2016 in Copenhagen (courtesy the Artist)

Isabel Lewis, “Occasion for Ten Days Six Night”, 2017, BMW Live exhibition, Tate Modern, London (courtesy the Artist; ph Alexander Coggin)

on the left: The artists Lara Almarcegui and Isabel Lewis with the architect Santiago Cirugeda who will implement the project (commissioned by Creative Time of New York) in Messeplatz of Basel during Art Basel 2018

Domenico Quaranta and the Future of New Technologies

Since June 2017 I am carrying out a serial research for the print edition of Juliet Art Magazine on new technologies and the imaginative possibilities of the creative artists on the future, with the participation of Italian and foreign personalities, representative of various disciplinary fields. Here is the interview with the art critic and curator Domenico Quaranta, who is also an expert author of essays on the most advanced technological media.

Luciano Marucci: Are new technologies able to stimulate imagination and foster artistic inventions?
Domenico Quaranta: Of course, they are. New technologies feed on our imagination and influence it by creating new ways of communicating, giving rise to new aesthetics and new relational spaces. If we consider virtual reality, which is recently experiencing a further revival (and a further hype): it translates into immersive environments and imaginary narrative spaces shaped by literature and the cinema of the 80s and 90s – from Neuromancer by William Gibson to Brainstorm by Douglas Trumbull – but at its current level of technological development, it allows to experiment with a wide spectrum of aesthetics (from photorealism to abstraction), of possible relationships between the virtual space and the surrounding reality, between the virtual space and the spectator, and between the viewer and other participants. It allows, in other words, to create new imaginary scenarios. As a matter of fact, as new technologies are able to stimulate imagination and invention, they can also inhibit them, pushing the artists to ask troublesome questions, such as: What space is left for me? How much does the medium influence me and how much creative freedom does it leave me? How can I carve out a role in this infinite flow of information, in this condition of diffused creativity?
However, I believe that these questions can also be productive, as a stimulus to a critical relationship with information technologies.

Is creativity, through digital tools,  also stimulated by the socio-cultural context?
Information technologies are an integral part of our current socio-cultural context, and in part they shape and influence it. We can observe it in every area of social life: from politics to economy, to the forms of socialization and communication. It is quite obvious that the impact of certain themes and tools on cultural debate and on everyday life generates a common cultural fabric on which an artist can work, and the widespread use of certain instruments and devices can open a space for intervention and dialogue with a potential audience, not necessarily mediated by traditional art infrastructures such as galleries, art fairs and museums.

Do the visual artists of the new generation tend to exploit the potential of advanced technologies?
It depends on what is meant by “advanced technologies”. The recent history of art teaches us that a new medium establishes itself as an artistic medium when it becomes economically and operationally accessible. Contemporary art does not entirely reject, but has an idiosyncrasy towards “know-how”, the acquisition of a technical expertise as a prerequisite and a condition for the use of a medium, as well as the “media specificity”. It is afraid it will be diverted from problems of a more conceptual nature, and be reduced to simple craftsmanship. It is afraid of becoming a slave to the medium, instrumental to the simple explication of its potential. The basic assumption of art in the Post-Medium Era is that you do not necessarily need to have gained professional use of a means to use it, and to be an artist you must avoid, as much as possible, to constrain your artistic practice to a single medium or language; you do not have to be a skilled photographer to do photography, you do not have to be a skilled videomaker to make videos, and you do not have to be an engineer to use a computer. Each of these means has been recognized as a legitimate artistic medium when it has satisfied these conditions. At this point, the acquisition of a technical skill is no longer a constraint, but becomes a choice of freedom, as that of focusing on a single medium. Highly advanced technologies impose a level of training and a focus which monopolize our ideas and distract us from exploring other possibilities. Artists of all times have been attracted to them, but when they took up the challenge, they did it accepting the risk of being marginalized by the art world of their time: think of the computer artists of the 70s. The acceptance of digital technologies in the contemporary art world has gone hand in hand with the explosion of consumer technology, “cheap and easy to use”. But if we think that a smartphone has computing power and memory capabilities more powerful than the computers that brought man to the moon, we can certainly consider today’s consumer technologies as “advanced technologies”.

What is the most updated role of the new technological media?
Well, to save the world which they themselves have contributed to bring to the verge of collapse.

Will the post-digital condition regenerate a more ‘humane’ reality?
This is a very interesting question. In the 80s and 90s, all the narrative on new information technologies was based on the description of the latter as “another” dimension compared to reality. Cyberspace, the notion of virtual, the idea of the Internet as a new frontier (like space in the 60s); all these aim at highlighting this otherness. During the past two decades, with the penetration of consumer technologies in everyday life, this perception of “otherness compared to reality” has faded: the “digital” is no longer experienced as something other than the real, but as a dimension of reality – which in some ways precedes it, influences it, shapes it. The post-digital, which describes the material manifestations of the digital, is the translation into visual metaphors of this change in perception. Rather than creating a more humane reality, it forces us to review the idea that technologies are inhumane. After all, what is innate human nature if not our tendency to build “extensions of ourselves”, as Marshall McLuhan defines the media? More than any evolutionary change, in the posture or in the dimensions of the brain, it was this step – the use of stones as weapons, of animal skins as clothes, the invention of the wheel and the control of fire – to distinguish us definitively from the animal world.

Is the artistic production fostered by the Web’s role of socializing?
As everything else in the world, the social web can be an inspiration or a tool for art. And as a communication tool, it can provide artists with a useful means of conveying their work through their network, and submitting it to the public. Actually, now that well-known and renowned artists like Richard Prince, Maurizio Cattelan, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst or Nan Goldin have begun to make an intensive use of social networks, what I have just said almost sounds like obviousness, even if it was not so until a few years ago. But as I have already pointed out, the excess of information and images, the effect of trivialization generated by the standardization of formats and the infinite scrolling, can also be experienced in reverse, and become a disincentive to intervene creatively in this horde of signals that inevitably turns into white noise.

Do digital applications have a significant influence on display formats?
Yes, and from different points of view. I often show my students the first episode of Ways of Seeing (1972), the phenomenal documentary by John Berger on how technical reproducibility and transmission of images are changing the way we see. It is interesting to note that having a smartphone perpetually in your pocket inevitably sabotages the aesthetic experience: it interrupts the continuity, subtracts attention, makes the use of those images that Berger describes as “silent, still” dynamic and noisy. The artwork becomes a distraction during a conversation, the occasion of a photo or a selfie, the input for a search for information. We can hardly manage to live the artwork without information, be it provided by a caption or an audio guide. Our devices are the trolls of aesthetic experience. The traditional exhibition formats are inadequate to capture the attention of the distracted contemporary wanderer, and they mostly survive in places of socialization and fast aesthetic consumption, such as fairs, and in museums unable to renew themselves. Spectacle and experience become the new keywords, a drift not necessarily negative and readable at all levels, from the performances of Tino Sehgal to immersive installations, from Art Unlimited to video mapping to multimedia exhibitions. If you believe that huge projections, interactivity and different sensory inputs are the best way to bring artists like Caravaggio or Van Gogh to the general public, it means that you have lost all confidence in direct enjoyment of the artwork.

March 17th, 2018
(Translated by Serena Fioravanti)
curated by Luciano Marucci

Domenico Quaranta (ph Michela De Carlo)

Domenico Quaranta,“Media New Media Postmedia” (postmediabooks, 2010). On the right English (Link Editions, 2013) and Slovenian (Aksioma, 2014) versions (courtesy the Author)

Gazira Babeli, “Acting as Aliens”, 2009, Kapelica (Ljubliana), performance produced by Aksioma, curated by Domenico Quaranta (ph Miha Fras)

Thomson & Craighead, “Unprepared Piano”, 2009, installation showed in the section “Expanded Box”, Arco Art Fair, Madrid, February 2009, curated by Domenico Quaranta (courtesy D. Quaranta)

Ryan Trecartin, “Roamie View: History Enhancement”, 2009-2010. HD Video, installation in “Collect the World. The Artist as Archivist in the Internet Age”, HeK (Haus der Elektronischen Künste), Basel 2012, curated by Domenico Quaranta (courtesy D. Quaranta).

Rafael Rozendaal, “Falling Falling .com”, 2011, website, installation in “Mankind / Machinekind”, Krinzinger Projekte, Vienna 2015, curated by Domenico Quaranta (courtesy D. Quaranta)

Peter Sunde, “Kopimashin”, 2015, installation in “Escaping the Digital Unease” 2017, Kunsthaus Langenthal (Suisse), curated by Raffael Doerig, Domenico Quaranta e Fabio Paris (courtesy D. Quaranta; ph Raffael Doerig)

Installation view of “Cyphoria”, Quadriennale 2016, Roma, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, curated by Domenico Quaranta (courtesy Fondazione La Quadriennale di Roma; ph OKNOstudio)

The Urban Art according Joseph Kosuth

In “Juliet” art magazine (print edition) I’m publishing a survey in installments on Urban Art, that is the creation of art works in public spaces – spontaneous or planned, without permission or authorized – separate from the by now institutionalized Public Art and, for other aspects, also from the historical graffiti. I’m involving Italian and foreign personalities representing varied fields. The initiative springs from the necessity to arouse an articulate reflection on a growing number of artistic works in residential areas, to create a larger debate about the phenomenon.
Here is the contribute of the conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth, one of the most important at an international level, who in the work reproduced here, has established an intense dialogue with the local history and the architectural structure in which he made the installation.

Luciano Marucci: Beyond the conceptual linguistic message, typical of your work, with your installations in urban spaces do you always try to establish a cultural relationship with the place?
Joseph Kosuth: I said quite early in my activity that artists don’t work with forms and colors, we work with meaning, and this is the case even when forms and colors participate in the production of that meaning, as they usually do. This understanding is central to my practice. Works which are based solely on the manipulation of forms and colors are on a path that leads to a cultural meaning as decoration and design as an end it itself. These certainly have their place and a value in our world, but art has another role, one which gives it political roots: it must have a reflexive relation with culture itself, thus it must ask questions of itself, how it is generated – indeed, how meaning itself is produced in culture and to show that. This gives it a political value as well as a philosophical one.

What do you think about the spread of Urban Art?
It is a radically more democratic form of what we’ve always had. And it certainly is an improvement on Generals on horses. The power of its recent form has been its existing without institutional engagement and permission. But even that is now changing.

In wider terms, from a aesthetic and social point of view, how do you consider the quality of one person works or collective projects?
They both make important contributions. I have tried to work in collaborative groups with, shall we say, uneven success. Certainly a different kind of art is the result.

Should the responsible authorities in charge discipline the street artist’s creations of works?
Responsible to whom? The absence of rules and laws risks chaos, that’s certain, but chaos isn’t always negative – that we’ve learned by now. The real problem is that both works inside and outside are more often than not very derivative and repetitive. Originality (another word for authenticity) is scarce both inside and outside of the building.

Could the artist’s actions ruin the features of the cities or could they enhance them?
Clearly both, as they are.

Do you think that the matter should be debated by artists, critics, curators … together with those authorized for public affairs to obtain a regulation in this field?
The sounds pretty awful. Probably we just need to improve the conversation about it.

February 20th, 2018

curated by Luciano Marucci

Joseph Kosuth “A Monument of Mines”, 2015, installation in Krona Cultural and Educational Centre of Kongsberg, Norway (courtesy of Galleri Brandstrup, Oslo and Joseph Kosuth Studio)

“A Monument of Mines”, 2015, detail, Krona Centre for Knowledge and Culture, Kongsberg, Norway (ph Sigurd Fandango 2015)

In the Krona Cultural and Educational Center, on the inside walls of the structure, Joseph Kosuth created an installation of 136 neon works indicating the names of the silver mines opened in that area over time along with the year for each of their closure. The Artist explains: “It’s like a graveyard of the silver mines. When you observe the work, you get to understand the whole history of this area”.

Farewell, Getulio Alviani!

Getulio Alviani (Udine, September 5th, 1939) left this world (February 24th in Milan) after a battle with a merciless illness. He was, no doubt, one of the most important, internationally speaking, representatives of the Programmed Art.  At the beginning of the 1960s, to outdo the mannered painting, he started realizing, by manual modalities, objectual works with sheets-aluminium: the “surfaces with vibratory texture”. He had followed the teachings of Bauhaus, confirmed by the School of Ulm, and as the “intellectual-technician” he was, he felt he had to continue on that road. From there he had developed, with an absolute scrupulousness, a research based on an ever-scientific type of analysis and planning method; on essentiality, the optical-dynamic perception, the interaction and even on a conscious ethical-pedagogical vision.
He was an eclectic personality and knew how to pass and, with amazing results, from the visual work to design and architecture; from the theoretical activity (in particular the tendency he stood for) to the curatorial practice and to the cultural promotion. For the love of art, he was also a keen collector: by exchanging works he put together a collection of masterpieces of his “fellow art travelers” and historic artists, in some ways precursors of his language. Moreover, he had dedicated subtle texts to some of them. In a polemic vis, he didn’t let there be any shortage of severe criticism of artistic and socio-political systems in our Nation and elsewhere, claiming that “intelligence is not used to win ignorance”. Thanks to the classical and modern idea of art, and also to the high quality of the production, he had stood up to the aesthetic changes of the contemporary.
Those who got to know his multifaceted work, his thinking that also motivated the daily life activities, his really incisive, eloquent and contagious, necessary and human presence, his non-conformed, generous and responsible way of being an artist also towards the social community as well as the environment, are now left with a feeling of immense emptiness, a hole in the heart.
In Juliet’s May-June paper issue, there will be a longer special to commemorate this friend I had for over half a century.

Luciano Marucci

Getulio Alviani in his environment “Interrelazione speculare”, VIII Biennial of Contemporary Art “Al di là della pittura”, San Benedetto del Tronto 1969 (ph Emidio Angelini)

Polyphony of Knowledges. Serpentine Marathon 2017

One of the cultural appointments of major relevance of the Art Week in London, although it as a whole had an independent format given its distinctive and experimental character in an interdisciplinary and activistic sense, was definitely the Guest, Ghost, Host: MACHINE! Marathon curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist for the Serpentine Galleries where he is the artistic director.  This year’s edition took place in the comfortable space of the prestigious City Hall equipped with the modern devices of the Serpentine Radio. The evening before the opening, there was an introductory performance at the “Magazine” (projected by the archistar Zaha Hadid), two talks between Obrist, Sarah Morris and Manthia Diawara. The topic of the Marathon was in particular the phenomenon of Artificial Intelligence (in steady growth) comparing the knowledges of philosophers, sociologists, biologists, botanists, anthropologists and of scientists, mathematicians, architects, film and theater directors, prose writers and poets, artists and art critics, managers of institutions. The event consisted of a kind of laboratory of interconnections, where each world known highly qualified personality showed the results of researches, studies and experiences in his own field, through an oral presentation as well as a practical one, by combining the urgencies of the present with the visions of the future. In the meantime the radio broadcasts favoured further communication and exchange of ideas. From 10am until late night the speakers followed one after the other at a rapid pace, all of them duly presented by HUO and supervised by a qualified staff. In this rigorous context, there were also surprising avant-garde performances, physical as well as musical, that all contributed to hold the numerous onlookers’ attention.
My new talk with Obrist – undisputed leader of the international art system; a no stop marathoner of innovative curating projects – sprang from the theme of the event and spread to probable development of virtual reality and its effects, that can be or cannot be shared, in the aesthetic, scientific and human area of interest.
Luciano Marucci: In short, how should your concept of performed “activism”, which in particular characterize the Marathons of the Serpentine, be interpreted?
Hans Ulrich Obrist: Today there is a need to answer the demands of the twenty first century and to connect many disciplines. The idea is to set up a Festival of the Knowledges with the intention to compare different points of view. The 2017 edition’s chosen topic was the artificial intelligence which has a connection with the critical theme of the work in the future.
Does your activist strategy in certain use your projects’ planned “interaction” with the audience and also the “transdisciplinarity” where the knowledges have a cultural, social and economical function?
We have just inaugurated the exhibition Take Me (I’m Yours), curated by me with Christian Boltanski, Chiara Parisi and Roberta Tenconi at HangarBicocca. This exhibit is about changing the rules of the game as it modifies the habits we have when visiting a museum. Here we can do things that are normally forbidden in a museum. The Marathons spring from the idea of finding a way of setting up events that so far have always had rigid rules, in other words how we can create a hybrid where the participants take active part, perform and ‘manifests’… The idea is in the format, in what way we manage to develop more fluid formats.
Hence, the experts’ debate regarding the chosen theme of the Marathons is connected with the socio-cultural growth of the reality in becoming?
Yes, absolutely, but it is also a resistance because every year a new topic which we consider basic or critical for the society, is chosen. We always find an important topic, not only regarding art, but essential for the destiny of the world.
Could we say that the mix of “activism”, “interaction” and “interdisciplinarity” defines the identifying feature of the various editions of the event?
Choosing the theme entails a long process, a very systematic one. Every year we take a look at a list of matters that seem to be pressing and finally we decide for one that has not been debated and that at the moment has a major critical weight.
In your opinion, can the artificial intelligence, which is a result of human brilliance, increase the inventive abilities and reduce the attraction for the physical reality?
I think that we today with the artificial intelligence can have a situation that permits us to create a benevolent super intelligence. The engineer Kenric McDowell spoke about this in his conversation, but if we find/end up with a malevolent superintelligence we should oppose to it.
Can creatives on the whole, also those of non artistic disciplines, foster the artificial intelligence in a way that it becomes nearly self generative?
The important thing is that art takes part in these discussions. Nowadays there is an intense debate about this, Nick Bostrom [director of Future of Humanity Institute] in Oxford is very critical, so is also the cosmologist Max Stenmark. In our Marathon, a very interesting part was the panel discussion with John Brockman (moderator), Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, Andrew Blake e Jaan Tallin (a supporter of Bostrom’s iniziatives) who discussed a lot, appearing to be critical. Art has to take part in these debates, to have its place at the table.
Will the art of tomorrow depend more on cutting-edge media?
We can never say that art is forced in this sense. As I have said other times, I think there are parallel realities such as drawing, sculpturing and painting that can continue to coexist with cutting-edge technologies. Well, yes, there are these new forms based on algorithms, but a form doesn’t exclude another.
Could the digital creativity, so precarious and performative, be the main form of art in the future?
It will be an important reality, but not the main one. I think it will be an additional opportunity. All you have to do is to take a look at “Serpentine’s” programme. Soon there will be two simultaneous exhibitions, paintings by Rose Wylie’s [inspired by art history, cinema, comic strips, daily life events] and Ian Cheng’s works based on evolutionary algorithms [works that examine the nature of the changes and men’s ability to deal with them]. We cannot say that one or the other will dominate, because, as I said, they are parallel realities.
Artists like Ed Atkins and Al Maria – who you know well – create interesting works using the digital methodology.
Yes, for sure. They are artists that deal with several disciplines, art, performing, cinema and architecture, and key players able to make the fluid borders between the disciplines
Let’s wait and see where the “Time machine” will take us. If I am not wrong, you too have put it into use to try and discover far in advance where we are moving to?
We should not close the discussions, but open them. This year’s Marathon did not  embrace the idea of artificial intelligence in an unquestioning way, but gave light to different viewpoints of the theme also the one that analyzes the critical aspects.
For sure the digital revolution will change a certain physicality of everyday life, but the important thing is that, through increased reality, an inhuman world is not re-created and that our wish to socialize remains. What do you think?
It is of basic importance not to create isolation, but let the new technologies help establish dialogues among human beings. For this reason, art has to participate as a substantial part in the debate.

(Conversation via Skype, November 2th, 2017, 01:39-01:55am)

Luciano Marucci  (Translation by Kari Moum)

Hans Ulrich Obrist introduce “Guest, Ghost, Host: MACHINE!” Marathon, City Hall, Londra, 7 ottobre 2017 (courtesy Serpentine Galleries; ph © Plastiques Photography)

Gilbert & George durante il loro intervento “GODOLOGY!” (courtesy Serpentine Galleries e gli artisti; ph © Plastiques Photography)

Timothy Morton, autore del libro “Hyperobjects: Phiposophy and Ecology after the End of the World”, alla Marathon. Davanti a lui il robot Siri; sulle gradinate Hans Ulrich Obrist (courtesy Serpentine Galleries; ph Luciano Marucci)

Panel discussion (da dx): John Brockman (moderatore), Jaan Tallinn (inventore di Skype), Venki Ramakrishnan (Premio Nobel 2009 per la chimica) e lo scienziato Andrew Blake (courtesy Serpentine Galleries; ph © Manuella Barczewski)

L’artista tedesca di origine giapponese Hito Steyerl in “Bubble Vision” (courtesy Serpentine Galleries; ph © Manuella Barczewski)

Zadie Xa con Jihye Kim in “Perfumed Purple Rice and Sateen Song for Sadie” (courtesy Serpentine Galleries; ph © Manuella Barczewski)