In conversation with Francesca Canfora

In conversation with Francesca Canfora

Paratissima 2020 will take place over a two-month period, from 23 October to 8 December, in Turin. In this way, to all intents and purposes, Paratissima goes from being a simple independent fair, created by a team of very young curators, to an art event in the making.

We talk about this project with Francesca Canfora, artistic director of Paratissima.

Since 2005, the year of the first edition, Paratissima has grown or, better, transformed, becoming an appointment of excellence within the Turin Art Week program. What is left of that first edition today?
Surely the enthusiasm and the desire to have fun, but always trying to improve every year, both in terms of content and organization. The passion has remained unchanged, but a progressive and growing professionalism has been added in these years.

After years of nomadism, it seems that Paratissima has finally found a home in the suggestive Ex Accademia Artiglieria: is this really so? How does Paratissima change or will change from now on?
We have a home, a wonderful venue which is both an operational and an exhibition venue. CDP, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, will host us in the former Accademia Artiglieria until the end of 2021. This is where ARTiglieria was born, a place where you can finally create a cultural program. In reality, Paratissima has already significantly transformed this year, reducing its size and increasing its temporal extension, becoming a sum of four different and longer events. At the end of this experience we will look for a location where we it will be possible to activate a program of contents on a continuous basis, to create a real contemporary art center, aimed at the constant production of initiatives and events, not just exhibitions.

Promoting emerging artists is something that many organizations brag about, often just in words. How does the Paratissima brand, and more generally PRS Impresa Sociale, concretely support new talents?
Paratissima and all the other initiatives promoted by PRS – the social enterprise that manages the event – are a concrete support because they help young emerging artists to exhibit and sell their works. Paratissima is an event similar to a fair because the artists who take part in it have the concrete possibility of selling their works, which often happens. On the other hand, it is also a place where you can make yourself known by gallery owners or curators, professionals in the sector. Or, again, win awards, which can be acquisition or other exhibition opportunities. Other initiatives that we carry out during the year are several free-to-participate contests in collaboration with other subjects. Through these opportunities, emerging talents have the opportunity to make themselves known, exhibit and, why not, win prizes.

As Artistic Director, what should never be missing in an art event?
New things must never be lacking, such as continuity. We must always try to raise the quality and something that inevitably remains impressed on the public cannot be missing. The “wow” effect is a must, but working with contemporary art, a source of constant amazement, it is not so difficult to achieve!

What advice would you like to give to young independent artists of today and tomorrow?
Always be on the move and at the beginning try to gain as much experience as possible: you have to exhibit in the most disparate contexts and on all possible occasions, to have the opportunity to confront the public and understand what it means to exhibit in an exhibition. Participating in competitions is also essential. Last but not least, try to be professional, always. Portfolio, CV, website, social profiles… These are essential elements of making art like any other job. It is necessary to equip yourself immediately, informing yourself and undoubtedly struggling, in order to be able to present yourself in a professional way, to collectors, gallery owners and curators. Two qualities that must never be lacking: punctuality in deliveries and precision.

If you could relive an edition of Paratissima, what would it be and why?
I am thinking of the 2010 edition, the year in which Paratissima was still in widespread mode in the San Salvario district. That year I was able to curate a project that gave me the opportunity to meet important artists, such as Marco Gastini, Giorgio Griffa, Luigi Mainolfi or Michelangelo Pistoletto, just to name a few. Everyone had to exhibit in a very special exhibition, in which the artists had refrigerators at their disposal, to be filled with art, food or food interpreted in an artistic key. The funniest and most memorable thing happened with Giorgio Griffa: I remember that I went to pick him up at home and accompanied him to Porta Palazzo to do the shopping. We wandered around the stalls  looking for all kinds of spices and his fridge became a kaleidoscope of colors and smells! It is a memory that I keep with great pleasure. Or the very thorny Nunzio who subjected me to a real interrogation to convince him to exhibit in this project. I don’t remember at all what I told him but, contrary to this dramatic start, he decided to participate and in the end he completely filled his refrigerator with artichokes, of which he was a great lover. For me it was inevitable to see a very successful self-portrait …!

A few previews of the upcoming edition, the sixteenth…
Any anticipation? Among the various special projects there will be one curated by Luca Beatrice, who will present a solo exhibition by the artist Lorenzo Puglisi. Another big news, part of the
event but also of the location is the Blooming Playground: a basketball court created in the internal courtyard by the street artist Tellas. The new Think Big section will instead offer the public immersive experiences, in which artists will create real settings, 360 ° works of art in which to enter. And then many curated exhibitions and projects, of visual arts or specifically dedicated to photography. In correspondence with the Art week, the presence of art galleries will be concentrated, with a selection always focused on young contemporary art. What else to say but to come and see?

Laura Tota


Francesca Canfora Paratissima 2020Francesca Canfora, direttore artistico di Paratissima, fotografata da Vincenzo Parlati, davanti Brama Renaissance di Robert Gligorov, courtesy Tomaso Renoldi Bracco

Vista della sezione Ph.ocus, dedicata alla fotografia contemporanea, Paratissima 2019,  © Vincenzo Parlati

Vista dell’ex Rotonda, Paratissima 2019, © Vincenzo Parlati

Lo spazio dell’ex Tribunale, Paratissima 2019,  © Vincenzo Parlati

Paratissima 2019, vista d’insieme degli stand espositori, © Vincenzo Parlati

Paratissima 2019, coda di persone in attesa di poter accedere alla manifestazione, © Vincenzo Parlati


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