The French headquarters of Galleria Continua (Les Moulins) shows up to September 30th an innovative show with a strong didactic value, titled And What, For Example, Am I Now Seeing? (Autodisporsi), which was born by the artistic partnership between the Gallery and the collector of contemporary art Giulio di Gropello.For the occasion, 48 works have been selected from the extraordinary di Gropello Collection that counts more than 300 pieces of art, all signed by great contemporary masters like Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramovic, Alighiero Boetti, Kiki Smith, and so on. We had the pleasure to ask some questions to Paola Clerico, curator of the show, and to the collector Giulio di Gropello.
The title of the show And What, for Example, Am I Now Seeing? (Autodisporsi), originates from the union of two names of works made by very important artists like Alighiero Boetti and Joseph Kosuth; can you explain us this choice and how the idea of the project was born?
Paola Clerico: The idea of the project was clear in Giulio di Gropello’s mind since he asked me if I wanted to collaborate to the realization of the show as curator. His wish to work on a show that purely had a pedagogic value and that it could create the opportunity to live the art with calm and concentration was well delineated and from that point we have moved there. We wanted that the public “looked” and nothing like the title of the work by Kosuth could be a better explicit invitation to observe and to reflect. For this reason And What, for Example, Am I Now Seeing? has become the title of the show. Regarding the subtitle, taken from the work Autodisporsi by Alighiero Boetti, the reasons are mainly three: the piece by Boetti, a sketch that represents a square formed by ten little squares each side has suggested us the structure around which define the exhibit run; the square symbolizes the ability of man’s rational elaboration since a perfectly square form doesn’t exist in nature and the invitation is, over whether to look, to elaborate; finally “Autodisporsi” is also the name of the Collection Giulio di Gropello.
The constant sensorial suggestions that contemporary society offers, from publicity to mobile devices, has trained our eyes to a “visual frenzy” that leaves little space to the pleasure of observation. So the show is an invitation to stop, to analyze and to compare it with what every single work communicates. Which exhibition path is proposed and what is the relationship between the works and the environment in which they are enrolled?
Paola Clerico: Following the “classical” criterion, the show is articulated in five sections: Sketch, Painting, Photo, Sculpture and Other Media. Therefore we have chosen 48 works among over 350 in the collection following the criterion of a great visual impact in order to capture the attention and to establish an intimate and personal relationship with the spectator. The path had to be linear to facilitate the didactics and from here it came the decision to divide the show in sections following those traditional canons. The setting up of exhibit has been projected to create a one-way run, a walk that didn’t foresee to ever cross again from the same point, but to flow in the show to live a continuous experience. To this purpose, besides the construction of drywalls, the white plate has been used as a continuous mark to visually accompany the spectator in an immersive experience. At the beginning of the show it is explained that during the visit it won’t be furnished any information about the art works. It is required to look, to switch off all the electronic devices and not to photograph. A card for voting and a notebook with the images of the works in show are given to the visitor, in order to draw and to sharpen his impressions. The visit in the Sketch, Painting, Photo sections happens with noise abatement headphones – a homage to Marina Abramovic and it goes on in the Sculpture and Other Media sections, that is Neon and Video, to finish in the didactic section. Because of the pedagogic goal of the show it has been placed great attention in the planning of the didactic section that occupies a wide portion of an immense industrial shed transforming the space disposition into a cheerful alignment of tables, stools, great colored cubes surrounded by the explanatory panels of the works. Inside this section it is exposed Voting Booth, a work by Buchel that signals to the public the place of harvest of the cards. Finally, to the exit, there is a piggy bank for the fundraising for Save the Children.
The extraordinary di Gropello Collection completes in 2017 its first 30 years. Can you tell us how this collaboration was born?
Paola Clerico: I have known Giulio di Gropello twenty years ago when, thanks to his untiring tenacity, had founded the Italian Studio Program in PS1/Moma of which he has also been the greatest supporter. Artists with whom I was working had the fortune to be selected and to spend a one year residence in NY. In that years we became friends and we have continued to be because we share the same passion for studying and the predisposition to look besides the mostly shared logics and mechanisms. What brought us closer was a depth and visionary love for art and for this reason I believe that he has asked me to collaborate to the project.
The show has a strong didactic component finalized to deepen the role of contemporary art in the digital era and in comparison to different generations. In your opinion, which is the direction that the role of artist is taking and how it places itself inside the Internet of Things?
Paola Clerico: The bet with this show was to understand if the proposed works were able to turn on the look of young people and to half crossed of the experiment we are very satisfied; we have viewed part of the notebooks, we are always in contact with the educators and the answer is satisfactory. Children and teenagers are active, they have a good time, they draw and they give us various and amazing interpretations. The notebooks are a source of big inspiration and a motor to continue. The artist in the digital era simply has more tools available; it is only his own choice to understand if and how to use them, it concerns only a technique choice. The artists, like everybody, have access to images, texts, books, interviews, film, music, video, tv, radio, blog, and this speed in information implicates a great liberty. If you are referring to the use of socials networks by a wide team of artists, I believe that, as everything, it depends on the content of the artistic project.
Your important collection of contemporary art in 2017 is 30 years and today it counts over 300 works. Can you tell us how this trip has started and what is the first work that you have purchased?
Giulio di Gropello: I have been very fortunate, the Baron Giorgio Franchetti has been my Virgilio in the early years of this run. His sister married Cy Twombly and he was a friend of De Dominicis, Boetti and Kosuth among the others. Giorgio collected with great passion and had a particular love for Tano Festa. Therefore it has been natural for me to start with a Piazza del Popolo by Festa in his late period.
The synergy between collectors and public and private cultural institutions is fundamental for the diffusion of the contemporary artistic forms. How has started the collaboration with Galleria Continua and the project of show And What, For Example, Am I Now Seeing? – Autodisporsi?
Giulio di Gropello: The partnership with the guys (it seems that they are destined to remain forever young) of Galleria Continua is a long date relation and we have experienced a lot of adventures together. In 2006 I have also brought a part of my collection of young Italian artists in their gallery in Beijing with a show entitled Young artist in Italy at the turn of the Millennium. When the structure of this show has gone defining we have understood that it was feasible in few spaces in Europe with the necessary physical ductility and the right team to make this experiment. The space of Les Moulins is so vast that it had been possible to suit it for our demands of linear path without return. You enters and you are forced to a run piloted that it doesn’t bring back yourself. Besides the team led by Chiara Marchelli is absolutely trained to interact with the territory being this the second prerequisite to be able to effect this experiment.
Can you give a suggestion to an aspiring collector about the first purchases of works?
Giulio di Gropello: The only suggestion I can give to whom approaches to this world is, before doing any footstep, to study a lot. Art feeds of art and the bases are essential to judge. If possible, to do it with love.
And What, for Example, Am I Now Seeing? (Autodisporsi)
2017 April 30th – September 30th
46, rue de la Ferté-Gaucher, Boissy-le-Châtel, France
Joseph Kosuth, Nr. 316 (On Color) (Cobalt blue) Wittgenstein series”, 1991. (And what for example am I now seeing) Neon, © Arnold Jerocki
Kiki Smith, ‘Cathedral’, 2012, jacquard tapestry, 289,6 x 190,5 cm. Photo credit: Ela Bialkowska – Okno Studio
Ai Weiwei, ‘Bowls of pearls’, 2006, 2 bowls of coloured porcelain from Jingdezhen and 1⁄2 ton of clear water pearls each Ø100 x 44cm. Photo credit: Giorgio Benni
Diego Perrone, Come suggestionati da quello che dietro di loro rimane fermo, 2001, Series of 5 photographs on aluminum, 155 x 105 cm / each. Photo courtesy: Giorgio Benni Courtesy: Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milano
Gino De Dominicis, Untitled, (self-portrait), Pencil on black wood-board 65 x 62 cm. Photo credit: Giorgio Benni
Marina Abramovic,’Great wall Walk’, 1988 27,5 x 40 cm, Colour photograph. Photo credit: Giorgio Benni Courtesy: The Artist