The 27 of January, the annual appointment with ArteFiera returns to Bologna with the 41st edition of Arte Fiera, the first and largest contemporary art fair. For the occasion, we interviewed Angela Vettese, the new artistic director who took over from Giorgio Verzotti and Claudio Spadoni, who had taken care of the last four editions of ArteFiera until last year.
The 41st edition of ART CITY in 2017 has been renewed from earlier. What are the main elements of this renewal and what’s new compared to previous editions?
Fewer galleries. Blend of modern and contemporary with less crowded stands. A more selective focus to photography articulated in market, exhibitions and books. Many exhibition opportunities in the city directly commissioned by ArteFiera which involve the MAMbo, the Archaeological Museum, the university museums in Palazzo Poggi, an exhibition of artists’ lectures also in tribute to the 40th anniversary of the week of performances in Bologna, many talk inside and out of the fair.
In this edition there are Italian galleries and a few foreign galleries or non-European. Do you think this depends on what?
During the years when ArteFiera looked to the amount of exhibitors, Miart and Artissima have focused on their international quality. The way to reach that level is long: Bologna remains important, but the credibility of an art fair is not only measured with the market. Also Milan and Turin have been able to take advantage of their cultural sphere dedicated to contemporary. Bologna, which in the seventies started advantaged, has suffered in this way a vocation crisis.
How do you think it’s possible to attract the interest of these galleries to participate in Art City to Bologna?
Working on the integration of cultural and commercial sides, with the complicity of the city administration. That, I must say, there seems to be.
Applications for admission to that year exceeded those of the previous editions, but exhibitors are numerically diminished. According to which criteria were they selected?
Through team work, always shared and never subject to influences or personalistic preferences, the selection committee, for which I have sought not only dealers but also important figures in terms of art history and curatorial practice.
Less broader participants and booths: the request was dictated by the exhibitors or for other reasons?
A visitor needs to enjoy a good walk. For some time the best fairs are not collections. I thought it was important not to bundle the visitors.
Art City Polis is one of the great innovations of this year, how did the idea born and why?
Polis means civil society, recovery of questions – if not the answers – what is a city, and in particular on what is the kind of Italian urban manifold which is in part a production area, in part a so-called city of art with a growing tourism. It applies to Bologna but it is a discourse that adhere to many of the Italian centers that have begun to host cultural festivals: only with this you can make the past live. It is a recipe that comes from below, from city governments, but also the state is acknowledging thanks to initiatives such as the ‘Capital of Culture’.
In this edition there is a clear attempt to approach the independent and underground realities, with two appointments as Master in Photography and Printville, how these project born and develop?
Everything born from the State distraction, which opens great museums but then bankrolls them, Italy has more independents and non-profit spaces than you think. Many of these are dedicated to the photographic language, which is now part of a huge collective consciousness.
What do you think of other organizations working in these days in Bologna as Set Up or FruitExhibition?
I’m happy that they exist. An art fair has always its rebel satellites.
Among the various events proposed during Art City 2017 which are the most innovative?
The newness does not interest me at all. I’m interested in the quality of the proposal. I leave the judgment to others, even if all we have appointed, by Printville to Genda and Agenda (the photo) exhibitions, from the review of films on Italy curated by Mark Nash to the re-reading of documentary and performance, have their reasons. Strange but true, I think that to sell you also need to think. Our consumer society is in fact now very sophisticated. Five years ago the coolest collectors wanted to participate in VIP dinners, now they want to go home having learned something. Or let’s say that I hope so.
From 27 to 30 January 2017