Placentia Arte is a historic gallery in Piacenza, with an international touch, which has been directed by Lino Baldini for over 25 years. Over the years it has become the main reference center for the research of young artists of the ’90s generation, welcoming authors still unknown at that time. Today, many of them are world-renowned artists and an active part in the international star system. At the beginning of 2015 Lino Baldini took over a new artistic direction composed of a group of young people: Marta Barbieri, Riccardo Bonini, Paola Bonino, and Michele Cristella. Curious about everything, I went to peek in the Gallery to chat a bit ‘with them and understand their intentions.
First I’d like to know more about you. What are your backgrounds and your professional skills?
We all have a humanistic education, specifically a critical literary and historical preparation, which has led us to make significant experiences of training and work in Italy and abroad, both in the field of gallery and curatorial. Probably our approach to work is positively affected by this background and our attitude would be that of an open platform for hybridization.
I am curious to understand what were the events that brought you together, the reasons that led you to join and the steps that have led you to grasp this important legacy together; above all, the choice to bet on Italy.
We are all originally from the Piacenza area and we had already known the gallery for some time. Gravitating, more or less, in the orbit of Lino, we were encouraged and motivated by himself to take up this challenge, remaining in constant contact with the historic founder.
The common ground was the premise: undoubtedly we shared the look interested in Italy and our contemporaneity, trying not to be distracted by the obstetric that characterizes many other realities, and we were anxious to collect the legacy of a job that has looked purely in this direction. Surely there was also the incentive to be part of a project that has meant so much for the Italian art of the 90s.
How do you organize, at the team level, in the management of the Gallery, in the selection of the artists and in the programming? Is yours a horizontal collaboration, where everyone puts their own knowledge and experiences in the field or, in fact, is there a small internal hierarchy?
Each of us has specific skills and different interests, therefore, now more than ever, since we are in the first steps of the new management, we consider it appropriate that all contribute collectively to the cause, clearly each one focusing on aspects that he considers more congenial, that we talk about the organizational aspect, of the curatorship, of the communicative line … Clearly, the most important decisions are collegial and we move in the most absolute harmony.
You have welcomed an important and very large legacy – especially if conceived in terms of the archive of works in the collection – which includes works by both very young and very famous artists. As for programming, how do you place respect to this legacy? Are you interested in proposing projects of more historicized artists or are you more oriented towards the research of the youngest? In March you debuted with the collective “With desire and with fear” that united the works of artists of the collection with the works of artists invited ad hoc. In May, on the other hand, you have inaugurated with the staff of Lucia Cristiani “Rosa decisivo” who, for the occasion, presented an unpublished project. Here, I would like to understand what your intentions are and how you want to pose with respect to the current artistic scene.
As already anticipated, the intention is to keep the focus on emerging artists, but from structurally solid work, mainly Italian. We would also like to develop some selected collaboration with foreign realities, in particular we are looking to the North and East Europe. As main differences with the previous management, it will probably be necessary to mark the need to be present also in the fair context (coming soon). Even in the ways of working with artists, something will change, hoping to arrive, in a short time, to establish long-term collaboration relationships, carrying out their work and growing together. The market then is something that is independent of more strictly research talks, and therefore the possibility of working on an important warehouse like the one accumulated by Lino over the years is undoubtedly stimulating.
The current exhibition “Rosa decisivo” by Lucia Cristiani will be open until July 18th. Lucia is a very young artist, but with a very rich body of work. What attracted you to your research? Tell me a bit ‘of the genesis of the exhibition and what you decided to exhibit.
Lucia, although extremely young, has proved to be very motivated, professional and with a fascinating project, both on a conceptual level – the metaphor of the competition analyzed in its aspects, as a race or resignation, and the “suspension of judgment” – both at aesthetic level, with well balanced and intriguing works. The structure of the exhibition is decidedly varied: the main corpus consists of prints of various sizes on plastic and paper fabrics and a polystyrene sculpture, which has a strong presence in space, also for the installation type chosen by the artist, to whom there is an intervention on the floor and two videos. In addition to the quality of work, this attention to the variety of shapes has also impressed us.
The Gallery is not located in the city center, but is slightly dislocated, in front of the Polytechnic. Its two large windows are constantly crossed by the looks of the students who walk the street, I imagine intrigued by what they see inside. How does the Gallery stand in relation to the fabric of the city and to the other artistic spaces?
Lucia Cristiani, Rosa Decisivo, installation view, 2015. Courtesy photo: Marco Fava.
Con desiderio e con timore. Marco Pezzotta, 4000, 16x6x6 cm, 2014. Courtesy photo: Marco Fava.
Rosa decisivo. Lucia Cristiani, I, Stampa UV su tessuto airtex, 320×200 cm, 2015. Courtesy photo: Marco Fava.
Rosa decisivo. Lucia Cristiani, II, Stampa UV su tessuto airtex, 145×220 cm, 2015. Courtesy photo: Marco Fava.
Is there a willingness, on your part, to bind you to the territory to propose projects that directly involve citizens, schools, and students? Would you like to work on something that comes out of the gallery space to invade the city?
The Gallery has been known for years probably more elsewhere than in the city, but certainly, the will of a reversal of course is, because Piacenza deserves to know better the history of a space that has been so relevant for Italian art. To date we are working to structure a solid territorial network that allows us to have a basis of recognition. Among the various projects we have in the pipeline is certainly that of intensifying relations, which we have begun to build in recent months, with the Polytechnic, especially thanks to its teachers. Furthermore, we would like to present a site-specific work for Piacenza, as we would like to build a constructive dialogue with the city in which our artistic reality is inserted. On the urban territory there are in fact several buildings in disuse, but extremely fascinating, on which it would be very interesting to intervene with ad hoc projects by activating a process of revitalization.
To conclude: some anticipation of future projects?
The priority is to focus on the gestational-generational transition under way and to better address the new “rudder” of Placentia. We are working on programming for the end of 2015 and for next year. Surely we will focus on personal exhibitions, which will aim to consolidate the profile of the Gallery and the imprint we want to give it, a springboard for us and for the artists. We are also thinking of later projects, how to dedicate part of our programming to performative events and to escape from the gallery spaces to expand in the city, as we mentioned before.
Via Scalabrini 116, 29121 Piacenza
T: + 39 0523 – 334850 | +39 333 13 26 962 | +39 339 17 14 400
Lucia Cristiani – DECISIVE ROSE
May 16th – July 18th 2015
from Wednesday to Saturday 16.00 – 19.00 and by appointment
Michela Lupieri (* 1983) is curator, researcher and author. She graduated at IUAV of Venice in Visual Arts, with a specialization in contemporary art and curatorial practices. She is part of the curatorial team of Palinsesti and research fellow at the Archive of the Avant-gardes (Collezione Marzona) at the SKD of Dresden. She lives between Italy and Germany.