Public days:

Step 01

IMPORT EXPORT

Present Future PF 7

Discover it at 04:01

Step 02

RICHARD SALTOUN

Back to the Future BTTF 10

Discover it at 08:02

Step 03

KANDLHOFER

Disegni DS 3

Discover it at 13:03

Step 04

MARTINA SIMETI

Corridor Brown 5

Discover it at 17:10

Step 05

SWEETWATER

Corridor Pink B-14

Discover it at 20:50

Transcript

Introduction

Good morning! Welcome to Artissima 2022. This is the AudioGuide project and you are listening to track number 2 entitled MIND THE GAP, dedicated to feminism, gender issues, civil rights and LGBTQIA+. Throughout the history of art, not only contemporary art, these themes have often been considered minority, collateral, but the historical era we are living through is no longer willing to indulge in discounts and the debate is fervent. Since last September, Iranian women have been staging protests against female oppression, corruption and poverty, ethnic discrimination, and intellectual conformism: in memory of Mahasa Amini, they cut their hair in actions that have an almost performative character. In Italy, The Milk of Dreams, the 59th Venice Biennale curated by Cecilia Alemani, is the first in history in which the number of women artists exceeds the number of men artists. In support of this, British art historian Katy Hessel has just published a text that is making a lot of noise: The Story of Art...Without Men. The manual is launched with a brilliant claim: "could you easily name ten female artists? No? Then this book is for you”. Hessel assumes that when it comes to female artists, it is always necessary to juxtapose them with men - masters or lovers that is, but the truth is that one can talk about Dora Maar without necessarily remembering Picasso, and that the idea for Duchamp's revolutionary urinal would actually have come from Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. The debate is so topical and diverse that even the fashion world could not be excluded. At the end of September, during Milan Fashion Week, Alessandro Michele, Gucci's visionary creative director, brought Twinsburg, a genderless collection to the catwalk, on whose fabrics were printed the graphics of FUORI!, the legendary Italian Revolutionary Homosexual United Front. Founded in Turin in 1971, animated by Angelo Pezzana, FUORI! was a founding moment in the history of the homosexual liberation movement in Italy, characterised by creativity and intellectual vivacity. In the aftermath of the Italian Parliament's failure to pass a law against discrimination against women, disabled people and LGBTQIA+ people, in the aftermath of the suicide of Cloe Bianco, a teacher who last June, after coming out as a trans woman, took her own life after being demoted and fired, certain issues can no longer be ignored, but on the contrary be included in a daily debate. We, at Artissima, deal with this through a specific itinerary at the fair, along with artists from all over the world, bearers of different narratives, never simple, but who will direct our gaze towards a new perspective. Open, inclusive, intersectional. I am Daniele Licata and I will accompany you on this journey. We are ready to go. Pause your player and head for the IMPORT/EXPORT gallery, located in the central corridor, sector PF7, where we will begin our tour. Press play once you are there.

Step 01

We are now in the Present Future section, at the Import/Export gallery in Warsaw, along the central corridor, sector PF7, where we will talk about SAGG Napoli. Visual artist, performer, professional archer. Like Orlando, the protagonist of Virginia Woolf's novel of the same name, Sofia Ginevra Giannì does not like simplistic definitions, which is why she chooses to embrace them all with a stage name that sounds like a declaration of intent: SAGG Napoli. Born in the capital of Campania in 1991, SAGG Napoli lives and works in London, where she conducts highly personal and topical research into her Neapolitan origins. She herself, in recounting her practice, speaks of ‘South Aesthetic’: a constellation of symbols, allusions and, yes, even stereotypes, which make the aesthetics of southern Italy known throughout the world. At a time when Netflix is making record ratings with a series like Gomorra and a rapper like Liberato comes to the attention of even the most sophisticated listeners, the works of SAGG Napoli add an irreverent, never predictable and super-feminine twist. In the artist's works, the starting point is often the city of Naples. A meeting of ethnicities, cultures and subcultures, a territory of struggles and dominations, a landscape with which we associate legends and sayings. Here, SAGG Napoli does not fear those rumours, on the contrary, she makes them protagonists: think of the 2016 SAGG Demonstration performance, in which the artist herself animated the characteristic Quartieri Spagnoli with scooters. In the common imagination, the capital of Campania is often a crossroads of mopeds speeding freely and sometimes uncontrollably, with kids travelling 'n goppo' o mezz’ (riding the vehicle), as they say. In Naples, says Sofia Ginevra, 'a scooter is the extension of the legs', and in her work it is an indispensable vehicle for performing actions that are authentic rites of passage in adolescence. And then there is the body, another fundamental element in the artist's colourful glossary. A body stretching its bow with vigour, bending: the Present Future stand is littered with coloured, pierced targets. The practice of a professional archer merges with that of an artist and a woman who, in taking aim, seeks her role in society. Says the artist: for centuries, a woman with a bow was considered a warrior. The bow is perceived as a weapon. But I do not recognise myself in this image: why would I want to be a warrior? Who is the enemy? What if the real enemy was a system of values and distractions that did not allow me to be the best part of myself? Not only that. Being an archer, SAGG Napoli tells us, means being patient. Trusting a process. Establishing intentions and goals, allowing muscles and mind to synchronise with movements. If you miss the mark, you learn to accept that things break, and you don't always really need to fix them. This is where our first stop ends. Pause your player and head for the Richard Saulton Gallery, on the central corridor, sector BTTF10. Press play once you are there. I will be waiting for you!

Step 02

We are now at the Richard Saltoun Gallery, based in Rome and London, along the central corridor, sector BTTF10. Back To The Future is the section curated by Artissima that takes us a little leap into the past, allowing us to discover and rediscover more or less well-known artists, often historicised, but who due to the unfathomable logic of the art market have perhaps not yet achieved the international recognition they deserve. This year, if there is a woman artist deserving due attention, she is Eleanor Antin. Born in New York on 27 February 1935, Antin is an American performer, filmmaker and conceptual artist who has always explored the multiple possibilities of art from a feminist perspective. After her beginnings in the artistic-literary avant-garde of 1960s New York, Antin began attending the Women's Building in Los Angeles, and came into contact with the lively community of artists and left-wing intellectuals that animated the University of San Diego, where she taught from 1975 to 2002. In 1974 she wrote a paradigmatic statement: "I consider the common parameters of self-definition (gender, age, talent, time and space) as tyrannical limitations on my freedom of choice. For this reason, in the videos made between the 1970s and the 1990s, Antin showcases characters whose origins, professions and geographical origins are always different. From the dethroned ruler of 'The King' to the frustrated dancers of 'The Ballerina and the Bum', Antin interprets roles and situations in which sexual genders and social classes are never fixed, anticipating the concept that is at the centre of a global debate today: fluidity. Back to the Future exhibits, among other things, the mail art project entitled 100 BOOTS: 51 photo postcards featuring 50 pairs of black rubber boots. These boots are made for walking, sang Nancy Sinatra in '66. Those photographed by Antin, immortalised in the most disparate poses and situations, from '71 to '73 - with irregular intervals ranging from three days to five weeks - 'walked', if one can call it that, from California to New York, to MoMA, the first major museum to exhibit them. Receiving the images are artists, critics, museums, galleries, newspapers, who become recipients and witnesses of an ironic narrative. In Antin's imagination, the boots go to the market, to the bank, even to war; they commit a crime, and like human beings, they cannot resist the temptation of a love story that, alas, will not have a happy ending. In 100 Boots Eleanor, the artist examines the meaning of the object in art, mail art as a means of expression, and the sender-recipient relationship capable of structuring the work. And let's face it, the vicissitudes of the boots also seem to anticipate that wonderful garden gnome co-starring in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 2001 masterpiece The Fabulous World of Amélie. Looking at Eleanor Antin's works brings to mind a question, the same one posed by art historian Linda Nochlin in 1971 in the title of an essay that has gone down in history: Why have there been no great female artists? The solution, we know, lies in the dismantling of patriarchy, of logics dominated by the male gaze, in those processes that in Eleanor Antin find a refined interpreter, capable of inspiring the protagonists of contemporary art that came after her, from Mary Kelly to Cindy Sherman to Vanessa Beecroft. This is where our second stop ends. Pause your player and head for the Kandlhofer Gallery on the white corridor, sector DS3. Press play once you are there. I will be waiting for you!

Step 03

We are now at the Kandlhofer Gallery in Vienna, on the white corridor, sector DS3. Here we are at DISEGNI, the Artissima section - the only one in the Italian fair scene - to dedicate a focus to this expressive medium. Here, the Kandlhofer Gallery in Vienna is showing a single presentation of Alexander Basil's work. Born in Arkhangelsk, Russia, in 1997, Basil was a pupil of Elizabeth Peyton, and although his is a painterly production, the underlying sign is a key element. Curved, sinuous, soft lines, which with continuous strokes shape what are often self-portraits, engaged in a curious dialogue with the surrounding space. When Instagram was created, Basil was thirteen years old, and the aesthetics of the selfie played an obvious role in his formation. In his canvases, the artist exposes himself with the certainty of being seen, scrutinised, even though the actions he performs are of a disarming everyday nature. Alexander shaves his beard, Alexander shaves his hairy chest, Alexander lies on a bed with his eyes fixed on his laptop. With extreme naturalness, he transports us to the intimacy of the bathroom, the bedroom where he often portrays herself in the company of Moritz Gottschalk, his partner and muse. The two are often united by passionate embraces, symbolising a total fusion that does not fear - indeed, demands - the gaze of the spectator. Sex is joy, experimentation, and a way of paying homage to the much-loved canvases of Master William N. Copley. But in Basil, to speak only of bodies would be reductive. Last year, the artist presented an exhibition entitled Claustrophobia, and the perception of space resulting from pandemic lockdowns is another crucial element of his practice. The actions he portrayed may seem trivial because for several months all of us, locked in our flats, did nothing but perform and reiterate trivial gestures. In Basil's painting, the identification with the domestic interior is so strong that the artist's face, at a certain point, merges with it. It pops out of sockets, peeps into the pot of a carnivorous plant, appears among the clothes hanging on hangers in the wardrobe. The artist doubles himself, splits himself: many small alter egos - similar to the Mini-Me protagonist of the Austin Powers saga - keep company to a lonely narcissist, who tries to beguile time in a closed, shiny space, where Big Babol-coloured skin multiplies on the surfaces of numerous mirrors. Playful only in appearance, Alexander Basil's work is a profound investigation, a reflection on how body and sexuality vent themselves in the constriction of rooms. The artist's eyes - feline, framed by well-drawn eyebrows - continually question us, while the voice of Jimi Hendrix, singing in '68, seems to resound in our minds: ‘I used to live in a room full of mirrors / And all I could see was me’. This is where our third stop ends. Pause your player and head for the Martina Simeti gallery on the brown corridor, sector 5. Press play once you are there. I will be waiting for you!

Step 04

We are now in the Martina Simeti Gallery, on the brown corridor, sector 5. In 1993, the French writer and essayist Virginie Despentes shook the world with Baise-moi (Fuck me), a debut novel published when she was only 23 years old with which she reinterpreted the myth of Thelma and Louise in a porno-pulp key. But last year, in 2021, the author released a less prurient text, King Kong Theory, in which, in addition to advancing the feminist theories that made her famous, she also writes about men. In particular, of all those to whom canonical masculinity is narrow, those who - to quote Despentes - “cannot fight, cry easily, are not ambitious, competitive, are fearful, timid and vulnerable”. Looking at the works of Milanese artist Davide Stucchi, exhibited in the Main Section of Artissima by Galleria Martina Simeti in Milan, the pages of King Kong Theory resonate in the mind, sculpting an entirely new definition of male. Stucchi - whom you will also find in the Monologue/Dialogue section at the Deborah Schamoni Gallery at the Fair - was born in Milan in 1988, where he lives and works as an artist and set designer. Space is a fundamental concept in his practice: not by chance, the fair hosts a site-specific intervention involving a yellow carpet previously used in the display of a Prada fashion show. Around it, along the walls, a series of eyes peep out on denim drapes, as if they were silent and morbid spectators at the same time. In Stucchi's work nothing is really explicit: everything is suggested, hinted at, as if it were a presence that timidly announces itself to the surrounding reality. Everything is vulnerable: vulnerable are the sculptures, these unfinished objects, often packaged, ready to move from one moment to the next, because in life - as in sexuality - everything is unstable, in perpetual motion. The artist uses neon lights, lamps that evoke the great season of Italian design, electric wires that shape paths that are also possibilities for encounters. There is a very strong desire that pervades these seemingly minimal objects: light is an erotic urge, it is a search for the other, for a domestic environment that, even if only for a few hours, can be fire. Davide Stucchi feeds his personal imagery with cultured influences and quotations. In interviews, he makes statements that resonate like small aphorisms. Personally, my favourite is the list of three essential readings for his journey: the writings of Palazzeschi, Exploring the Human Body and Vogue Italia. This is where our fourth stop ends. Pause your player and head for the Sweetwater gallery on the pink corridor, sector 14. Press play once you are there. I will be waiting for you!

Step 05

We are now at the Sweetwater gallery in Berlin, along the pink corridor, sector 14. This is the NEW ENTRIES section, which Artissima dedicates to the most interesting emerging realities on the international scene: they are all less than five years old and this is their first participation in the Fair. Specifically, we focus on Sweetwater, a Berlin gallery founded in 2018 that is present here with two German artists: Luzie Meyer and Hanna Stiegeler, the protagonist of our in-depth study. Born in 1985 in Konstanz, Stiegeler's beginnings remind us of a myth of feminist and conceptual art: the American Barbara Kruger, who would probably never have given substance to her such direct and edgy works had she not come out of an experience as Art Director for Condé Nast, the publishing house of Vogue. Hanna Stiegeler, on the other hand, trained at a Berlin-based e-commerce company where she took 360 degree photographs of products for online sale. Bags, above all: pouch bags, clutches, shoulder bags that in the Content Creation series, which is a series of livid black and white silkscreens on paper from 2019, are opened by a gloved, mysterious hand. There is an old popular saying that suggests not to peek too much into a woman's purse. Instead, the artist opens these objects with morbid curiosity, staging an atmosphere somewhere between a sexual act, a gynaecological examination and a crime scene. Like Kruger, Stiegeler is also interested in the language of advertising, in particular the one she studies by leafing through fashion magazines, which she has been pointed out to her as being uneducational since she was a child. Nevertheless, in 2014, she took them as inspiration for an artist's book entitled Consumer's Poetry, an almost Dadaist exercise in which phrases and claims from advertising become poems. In the same year, Stiegeler brought out another publication, 'Fendi Mag', where the main inspiration came from the campaigns of Fendi, the haute couture brand, which recalls another allusive verb, 'to cleave'. Also emblematic, however, are two series from 2018, entitled 'Disguise' and 'The Mystery Child'. ‘Disguise' reinterprets a paparazzi series in which female stars cover their faces from the paparazzi with masks, hoods, Chanel scarves that become burqas. 'The Mystery Child', on the other hand, is a series in which a single image is printed several times on a single sheet of paper, giving shape to double, triple exposures. With a selection of stars ranging from 1960s Italian actress Tamara Baroni to American influencer Kylie Jenner, Stiegeler traces an ideal photographic timeline that recounts how, over the years, the media has portrayed the female body through a series of repeated, speculative, misogynistic codes. At the fair you will admire two pairs of silkscreens: one part features geometric, ordered patterns of thought taken from a medieval codex preserved in the Berlin State Library. The other side depicts a fight between two wrestlers, an image from 1970s German underground subculture fanzines. This is where our fifth and final stop ends. We hope that this route has stimulated and intrigued you. If you'd like another perspective on the art fair, go back to the info point or the AudioGuides landing page and select another podcast! See you soon and enjoy Artissima!

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