In conversation with Daniele Capra, curator

In conversation with Daniele Capra, curator

Daniele Capra is one of those rare figures of curator and critic, who is still very committed to the artist’s favor, whether he is a new lever or not. An important element that, not only in Veneto, carries on with professionalism and serenity such a multifaceted and still very important profession for the art world.

I would like to make it clear who you are, but I didn’t want to summarize it. I would like you to do it by describing yourself with the title of a work of art.

I am a critic and an independent curator, but militant in the way I make my choices. On the one hand, I only deal with projects I believe in and, on the other, I try to build a human and intellectual partnership with the people I choose to work with. As far as I can I try not to be dazzled by ideologies, trends or fashions, and I try to look where no one is looking. I honestly think that there are no clear and unambiguous criteria for evaluating the work of artists active in our present time. One can only act in a comparative form, committing to practice critical thinking and go in depth. Having to choose a job, I would therefore say Entering the work of Giovanni Anselmo. Entering the work is the only strategy that allows you to grasp the truth of a job or the modesty skillfully hidden by chatter and glamor.

Recently, in an art magazine, the figure of the curator was defined as “at sunset”. What do you think about it?

I have different impressions. Curators such as Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Charles Esche, Thelma Golden, Massimiliano Gioni or Hans Ulrich Obrist are real stars. In my opinion, there is a need for curators in our complex society that increasingly needs articulated, intelligible constructions and mediations between the work and the viewer, who increasingly share, without knowing it, a horizon of individual or identity solitude. Furthermore, it is necessary that the proposed thought be critical, ambitious, which tries to provide interpretative tools with respect to the indistinct flow in which we are immersed.

Is there a place that you identify as the beginning of your journey and your work?

I curated the first exhibition, a solo show by Laura Zicari, fot Trieste Contemporanea a dozen years ago, at Studio Tommaseo. I am grateful to Giuliana Carbi, and to Franco Jesurun for pushing me to discover what was a vocation I was not yet aware of. I then worked on over a dozen projects in that space, which is special to me because it feels like home to me, even if its architectural structure with the staircase in the middle continues to challenge me.

How has the pandemic affected your work?

It was a misfortune. Exhibitions and projects were canceled, public funding was lost, months of life lived in uncertainty. And then a few trips, less study visits and fear of being together with other people in the same room. But on the whole, I think it has left fewer traces than one might imagine, if not as an awareness of the fragility of our relational and cultural system. And then in conducting the work, forms of online meeting were favored, which however are overall aseptic, impersonal. Despite everything, we need to meet and discuss in person.

Should the public be trained or entertained within an exhibition?

In general, we think of training and entertainment as two irreconcilable categories, but, a good exhibition includes both aspects, since the two must be combined with intelligence. The most stimulating situation is when apparently entertainment aspects lead, even in unexpected form, to meaningful content.

What do you find interesting, if there is anything, in the so-called «blockbuster exhibitions»?

The thing that strikes me most is the high communication and marketing skills of events of this type. There is often the ability to convey a folk tale which is almost always contrasted by a mediocrity of scientific constructions. An incredible waste. They gather in a place where the works, sometimes even heavy ones, meet, but incredibly there is no real reason to do so, apart from the organizers’ earning potential and political consensus. Here culture does not focus on the citizen, but on the visitor, as a tourist with a spending power. The contents are not important. Culture is too often just an instrumentum regni.

What would you recommend to a young person who would like to pursue the same career path as you?

To see the exhibitions in galleries and public spaces, to visit the artists in the studios, to read quality contributions and not to believe everything that is being told. And then I would suggest having a good international education, which is functional to open one’s gaze and to develop a network of relationships. And I would also recommend writing and rewriting, which is a great school for understanding what one has seen and what has been done, the articulations of thought, the deceptions of appearance.

You are one of the most attentive curators to young artists. In Italy there is a shortage of works by young artists in museum exhibitions, as is common practice in other countries. Do you think it is a cultural and social issue or simply a lack of courage?

There is a lack of complex cultural policies in support of art tout court. Frankly, in my opinion, Italian mid-career artists have been underrepresented in museum exhibitions in the last twenty years, while I think there has been room for young artists. Indeed, I think there has been a form of de-responsibilizing youthfulness. Artists, even very good ones, were randomly chosen, because they are like fresh meat and then abandoned. I also believe that our museums devote little space to Italians and too much to authors who come from countries where there is already institutional and market support. Countries also compete culturally and we, on the whole, are weak. I don’t want to sound nationalist, but in the end, we often promote those with bigger shoulders than ours!


Daniele Capra, foto Fratelli Calgaro

Extra Ordinario Appello, 2020, Vulcano, Venezia Marghera, foto Nico Covre

Reagents, 2019, Complesso dell’Ospedaletto, Venezia, foto Nico Covre

Point of Interrupted Departures, 2019, Arsenale, Venezia, foto Boris Cvjetanović

Massimo Spada, Pavistil, 2021, Conegliano



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