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Artissima opens this week in Turin, with a preview on November 2 and public days November 3-5. Taking place at the OVAL Pavilion, the fair feature 206 galleries from 32 countries, presenting work from over 700 artists. Director Ilaria Bonacossa oversees several new sections and special projects for Artissima this year—Disegni curated by Luís Silva and João Mourão, “The Deposito d’Arte Italiana Presente” curated by Bonacossa and Vittoria Martini, a series of talks curated by the classroom entitled “Piper. Learning at the discotheque,” and more.
In advance of the opening, Whitewall spoke with Bonacossa about the 2017 edition of Artissima.
WHITEWALL: You’ve talked about wanting to change the makeup of the galleries participating in Artissima, focusing more on spaces representing emerging talent. Why is that?
ILARIA BONACOSSA: Artissima has established itself as a curatorial fair that discovers talent and brings to the attention of collectors and critics those artists who have in some way not received the attention they deserve from the market and art history. The fair should concentrate on galleries who are actively involved in sustaining and promoting their artists’ careers and not just on making large profits.
I believe the significant European presence is reflected by artists currently living and working in Europe, who are able to move from one country to the other without seeing borders as real frontiers. The international group of curators and collectors we invite has also significantly grown over the years, bringing a considerable increase in acquisitions and sales.
WW: How does the fact that Artissima is a public fair, belonging to the city of Turin, affect the programming?
IB: Artissima is the core event of November, a month devoted to contemporary art in Turin. It has had such a significant impact on the city that five other peripheral art fairs have decided to open at the same time. Simultaneously, the city and its museums present important exhibitions while the whole region also launches art projects and events that turn the Turin experience into something very special. This year, the city will inaugurate the 20th edition of Luci d’Artista, a project that has seen great artists such as Rebecca Horn, Barbara Kruger, Giulio Paolini, Daniel Buren, and Michelangelo Pistoletto design site-specific light installations that substitute urban Christmas light decorations.
WW: What exhibitions at Turin’s museums and public spaces should fair visitors also see?
IB: In November, Turin’s museums and institutions present their most significant projects. The spectacular collection of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo will be shown, together with the collection of Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT, in the wonderful exhibition “Like a Moth to a Flame” at the OGR, a renovated industrial space that will host performative, music and contemporary art projects. The Fondazione Merz will host a solo show featuring Cuban artist Carlos Garoicoa, while at Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Tony Oursler will investigate Turin’s magical history, which will also be the center of “Tarots. From the Renaissance to Today” at Museo Ettore Fico. The solo show of talented Uriel Orlow at PAV Parco Arte Vivente and the Gilberto Zorio retrospective at Castello di Rivoli, which both celebrate Arte Povera, are also unmissable.
WW: Can you tell us about the Deposito project at the fair this year and its connection to Art Povera?
IB: This year Artissima will explore the city of Turin and its history, as 2017 marks 50 years since the birth of Arte Povera, with its first exhibition in 1967. The fair features two special projects that creatively re-enact two peculiar experiences from those years: the Piper Club Torino and the “Deposito d’Arte Presente” (1967–68), a space of production and display of the works of emerging Arte Povera artists organized by Gian Enzo Sperone with support from a series of local collectors.
Artissima brings back this format, with the “Deposito d’Arte Italiana Presente,” shifting it to the present time and using it as a conceptual framework for a project that absorbs the operative modes of the original.
WW: Can you tell us about the new Disegni section?
IB: The new section, Disegni, focuses on the specifics of a classical yet still timely form of expression: drawing. This section addresses an artistic practice capable of capturing the immediacy of the creative process and the way in which thoughts materialize, suspended between the preliminary idea and the finished art-work. Disegni promotes the advent of a new generation of collectors who might not be so comfortable with contemporary art but love this traditional medium.