The project A SUD is based on Artissima’s intention to highlight the activities of art foundations and institutions from the southern and island regions of Italy, reinforcing the focus on the Mediterranean as a place of artistic growth and an incubator of new creative perspectives.
Over the last few years, the Italian art scene has been enriched by a number of institutions and foundations whose activities are rooted in the southern areas of the country, producing projects and exhibition events marked by novel narratives pivoting on original interpretations of the relationship between places, cultural history and innovation, to the point of determining a new geography of the interaction between centre and periphery. Making room for this burgeoning institutional presence, the project A SUD delved into the historic cultural specificities of Artissima in terms of intercultural research, interpreting changes in progress around the Mediterranean from a southern perspective, to develop new outlooks and new forms of artistic and social awareness.
As Franco Cassano emphasizes in his Il pensiero meridiano, the Mediterranean today is a decisive place of meeting and mediation between multiple geographical areas, a frontier that can be interpreted as a centre, with a multiplicity of voices that join forces to convey the meaning of European contingency. It is precisely the “southern thinking” that can lay claim to a connection between one south – that of Italy – and the various “souths” of the world, with a particular focus on the southern coast of the Mediterranean.
The project A SUD was thus an invitation extended by Artissima to its audience to re-examine the specificities of places through art institutions, in the sense of returning to acknowledge and observe them, reconsidering geographical mapping to grasp new connections, proximities and resources.
The protagonists of the 2022 edition of A SUD were:
Fondazione Merz, named after Mario Merz, was founded as a centre of contemporary art in 2005 in Turin, with the aim of hosting exhibitions, events and educational activities, moving forward with research and exploration on art. After years of intense activity in the territory, in 2021 the foundation opened ZACentrale, a permanent space in Palermo inside ZAC–Zisa Arti Contemporanee, a cultural district provided by the municipality of Palermo.
The goal of ZACentrale is to be a generator of creativity and a location from which ideas, connections, reflections and new pathways can emerge. Far from being limited to the ZAC space, the programme has a huge focus on outreach and inclusion, working with numerous creative organisations as well as activating locations across the city of Palermo: from ancient sites to the extreme outskirts, from places of work to those of sport and socialising.
For Artissima 2022, Fondazione Merz returned with “ad occhi chiusi…”, the grant created in 2021 in collaboration with the fair, with the aim of selecting the international artist that corresponds best to the foundation’s research on young artists of the Mediterranean. The selected artist will have the possibility of taking part in a residency in Sicily. The results of the work conducted during the course of the residency will be presented in the programming of ZACentrale at the Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa in Palermo. In 2021 the artist selected by the jury composed of Gioia Dal Molin, artistic director of Istituto Svizzero di Roma, and Agata Polizzi, cultural coordinator of ZACentrale, was Heba Y. Amin, presented by the Zilberman Gallery of Istanbul and Berlin.
Fondazione Oelle—Mediterraneo Antico was founded in 2017 at Aci Castello Catania by Ornella Laneri, entrepreneur, and Carmelo Nicosia, photographer, with the aim of assigning value to the Sicilian cultural panorama, “Isola Sicilia”. Over the years the initiative has created cultural synergies with foundations, museums, academies and universities, with the aim of moving along shared pathways oriented towards a new definition of cultural engagement as an action of enhancement of the territory, to nurture the value of the Mediterranean, “a sea between lands”, the cradle of important civilizations and a crossroads of powerful cultural flows, through which different traditions, religions and cultures can interact in a situation of mutual benefit, navigating the many routes of contemporary thinking. At Aci Castello, Catania, the location of the foundation’s headquarters, experimental workshops and study grants have been activated, for purposes of education and the training of contemporary art professionals; the creation and management of archives of memory with the use of technologies and international collaborations; and workshops for training in various fields. The foundation has presented exhibitions of photography and painting, sound installations, projects of sound design, drawing and sculpture, as well as encounters and debates with a particular focus on the territory and the languages of contemporary art.
For Artissima 2022, Fondazione Oelle launched the innovative project ISOLA SICILIA 2022, an experiential format for the “artist-navigators” of the third millennium, to promote contemporary artistic research in the fields of visual arts, photography, video, sound art and more: actions seen as cultural crossings in Sicily. ISOLA SICILIA 2022 involves the selection on the part of an international jury of an artist among those represented by the galleries taking part in Artissima. The artist will have the opportunity to take part in a residency at Aci Castello, Catania, in which to conduct research on the concept of “Sicily, an island among islands”. Upon completion of the residency an exhibition will be produced and organized in one of the locations in which the foundation usually operates.
Fondazione Paul Thorel
Fondazione Paul Thorel was founded in Napoli in 2014 through the initiative of the artist Paul Thorel (London 1956-Napoli 2020), with the aim of protecting, conserving and promoting his work, while at the same time supporting contemporary creativity, with a special focus on digital and experimental photography. At the time of his death in May 2020, the foundation was appointed as the universal heir, as stipulated in his will, of all his assets. Thanks to this bequest, the foundation now oversees a vast legacy of works and properties, including the entire archives of the artist, containing about 1300 works spanning his entire career from the outset to 2020, a large collection of historical, modern and contemporary art, and a fine selection of working tools, valuable objects and documents.
Nearly two years after the death of Paul Thorel, the foundation he created under his own name has decided to organize a series of initiatives to commemorate his work as an artist and his generous support for the practice of photography throughout his lifetime. In this context, the foundation was on hand at Artissima with a special stand illustrating his personality and his collection, including the launch of an annual prize for young photographers, Premio Paul Thorel, in collaboration with Intesa Sanpaolo and Gallerie d’Italia. One of the members of the jury for this award was Luigi Fassi, director of Artissima.
The starting point for the prize was a reflection on one of the most critical and complex aspects in the work of young artists: the production of works. Fondazione Paul Thorel intended to intervene precisely on this critical factor, offering the winning artists the possibility of freely producing a photographic project, from the idea to the final implementation, making use of Paul Thorel’s studio in Napoli, an almost unique facility in Italy due to its very sophisticated set of working tools.