In conversation with Giulia Nelli, winner of the 2...

In conversation with Giulia Nelli, winner of the 2022 Cramum Prize

Giulia Nelli (Legnano, 1992) is the winner of the ninth edition of the Cramum Prize, launched by the homonymous Italian non-profit association committed to supporting emerging art. The Prize aims to follow and support the career of the winning artists by giving them the opportunity to access an interesting series of exhibitions and publications, which ends with a solo show at the Francesco Messina Museum in Milan. Giulia Nelli is the third female winner of the Cramum Prize after Francesca Piovesan (2015) and Giulia Manfredi (2017). The proclamation took place on 9 September 2022 at the Central Market in Milan, where the exhibition with the finalist art works, entitled LA CADUTA (THE FALL), was set up. Nelli won the first prize with her work Madre terra (Mother Earth), 2019, thanks, in the words of the director and curator of the Prize Sabino Maria Frassà, to her poetics that weaves all the bonds that build the identity of a person and that then develop in the relationships with the environment and the community.

We therefore had the pleasure of chatting with the winner.

Anita Fonsati: Madre terra is part of your Humus project which highlights the relationships between human beings and industrial, agricultural and urban gigantism. How do you think we can solve this lack of care for our habitat and how can the few and often inefficient solutions found in this regard change?
Giulia Nelli: Surely the current energy crisis has complicated and slowed down the path towards more environmentally friendly solutions for the soil exploitation. This happens despite we all see the damage caused by climate change, which is now irreversible. I think it is important to continue with research, the reduction of consumption and above all with the attention to the generation and abandonment of waste. It saddens me to see that bottles, handkerchiefs and personal waste in general continue to be left around, in buildings, as well as on the street or in the green. Is it so difficult to pay attention to what is other than us? To everyone’s tomorrow? Perhaps we need to insist on the education of each individual to mutual respect and to respect the environment and common spaces.

In the bonds between an individual and the environment there are also many often invisible or little considered intertwining, for example the relationships between human beings and non-human beings, such as bacteria, or even viruses. Does your Legàmi-Légami series also take these entities into consideration? Do you ever perceive your works as a network of relationships in which the human is not present?
No, not yet. In my works I used the metaphor of the subsoil as I was very impressed by the cooperation and the right balance that regulates the relationships between the beings who inhabit it, at the communication level the Wood Wide Web, but also in the use of the resources of the Planet. The idea of ​​bringing to the fore what lies beneath us has allowed me to enhance the importance of the deep values ​​that support a community and make it strong and resilient, therefore my work invites us to build strong and strong bonds.

To bring out your poetics, you adopt tights as your favorite material, as with their stretch marks allow you to create light and dark shades that are truly exemplary of the thought behind them. Wold you like to talk about how your work is structured from a formal point of view, through tearing or cutting and the subsequent intertwining: how do these actions relate, in a broader way, with your vision?
I was immediately fascinated by the ductility of the tights, which allows me to enhance the role of gesture and manual skills: in my wall works the fabric is dismembered and brought back to the basic element, the thread, which is worked to build new balances and harmonies, which are almost no longer identifiable with the original material. I would like to emphasize that the stretch mark is not accidental, but derives from a strong control that I have to exercise over the gesture in order to tear only as far as necessary to create the desired shapes. The winning works of the ninth edition of the Cramum Prize, for example, arise from the study of an innovative way of understanding the textile technique of contemporary tapestry, in which the weft is still dominant but the warp remains visible and assumes its own role in the interior of the drawing. These weaves remain immobilized according to a score established thanks to the warp, fixed on the framework of the work itself. In the installations, however, the work is more material as I assembly intact pieces of tights in order to create a play of transparencies in the space, given by the combination of tights of different thicknesses. In fact, the type of gestures necessary to create my works, as well as the almost exclusive use of black, are closely connected with the conceptual meaning of the works: the breaking of the material symbolizes the drama of the broken ties, the fractures. The play of solids and voids recalls the feeling of isolation that often accompanies us, while the act of re-knotting is the metaphor of the individual’s continuous attempt to overcome this feeling by building new relationships, which could be more or less solid and true.

After the Cramum Prize, in which projects are you going to invest your energy?
Autumn will be a very busy time for me. I am finishing a bimonthly Artist’s Residence at Villa Greppi and I will have the presentation of the works made in the residence on October 2nd, curated by Simona Bartolena. Furthermore, I am working on a site specific installation for a group exhibition, which will open on 9 October at the Textile Museum in Busto Arsizio (VA), curated by Barbara Pavan, while in November I will create another site specific installation at the Cosmo space, in Rome, as part of an exhibition curated by Camilla Boemio. Next year, thanks to the great opportunity given by the Cramum Prize, I will exhibit at the Francesco Messina Museum in Milan with the curatorship of Sabino Maria Frassà.

Anita Fonsati


Giulia Nelli, Madre terra, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Premio Cramum

Giulia Nelli, La vita sotto, 2022, in WE ARE THE FLOOD – Mostra Liquida #2, MUSE, Trento, 2022. Courtesy the artist and MUSE

Giulia Nelli, Terra nera, 2022, in LA CADUTA, Mercato Centrale, Milano, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Premio Cramum

Giulia Nelli, Vite sospese, 2022. Courtesy the artist


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