TURIN — Things are shared, and time exists only in the present tense. I wanted to journal about the movements surrounding Artissima, Torino’s international art fair, because I’m curious to think about how art can live or die depending on the conditions in which it is placed. Recently I’ve found globally recognized artworks to have in common a certain sterility, often heavily based on theory and intellect, that keeps them very safe. In these journals, I was interested in placing internationally established works in the same space as traces left behind in an apartment, for example, in order to feel something, feel soul. I used to think often about control: control of time, control of emotions, control of people, sanitation, and organization. Being far away from New York City has been an important opportunity for me to search for things in life as they exist. I have been seeking something wild, not socially constructed, born of unknowns.
Most mornings, I have long conversations over coffee with Manuel, in which I begin to comprehend his theories about chaos and living with no money. This creates a preferred manner of living, one in which conditions open up something unpredictable and shared. It is not a romantic idea but sometimes violent and uncomfortable. Living as artists in Torino feels like being a part of a big family, in which meals are shared, visitors arrive and possibly never leave, and a range of emotional states are navigated publicly. I want to praise this fragility; here things fall apart …
Artissima ended on Sunday, and my housemates and neighbor Renato Leotta, Elisa Troiano, and Alex Tripodi have to prepare a “brunch” for the launch of their new web platform for curators, TAXI. The American concept of brunch does not exist in Italy, nor does the concept of regular breakfast, but that is a different story. I suggested Bloody Marys, eggs Benedict, and chocolate chip pancakes with bacon, but in the end we had mountains of pizzette from our local panificio. Va bene.
For www.t-a-x-i.it, seven Italian curators who excel in fields outside of art curation were invited to write a text around or about Italian projects. The suggestion was to focus on the process of researching artwork, not just the artists, in order to activate an abstract dialogue in an Italian context. The curators were encouraged to begin their own projects on the web platform, a pleasantly invasive and fragmented 2.0 digital canvas as well as an autonomous multidisciplinary workspace that will be updated every four months. One of the curators, Simone Bertuzzi, a visual artist and musician, too, posted a series of videos and music references on Afrofuturism, seemingly without any context, which claim to open up the debate about the postcolonial world by looking at its musical productions. Another curator, Marianna Vecellio, uses three chapters of text to articulate her curatorial academic position. In my opinion, the digital format may limit the possibilities of creative expression for the curators. The projects are still arriving after the launch as all texts are being (painfully) translated into English; in the coming days, all seven projects will be live.
TAXI is still forming its identity, but it has interesting, online curatorial company. It reminds me of the web-based exhibition project 7 x 7 initiated by the Brooklyn curatorial project Why + Wherefore (Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan, and Nicholas Weist) back in 2008, in which seven organizations were invited to produce an exhibition composed of seven items around a theme. The results were varied: Rhizome staff writer Brian Droitcour put together The Long Gallery, an exhibition of seven vertical works that exceeded the browser frame; iheartphotograph added a gallery of Flickr photos tagged “emoticon”; VVORK compiled a selection of mp3s in which the narrator describes visual details of an item such as a picture or a website; plus works by others such as Humble Arts Foundation, Triple Canopy, The Highlights, and Sundays New York. Continuing with the seven guests, seven items format, the second round of 7 x 7 involved individual curators being asked to contribute exhibitions. Unfortunately, the site is no longer online.
In fact, I see strong similarities between the community-run cultural activities in Torino and those in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, where friends open venues and program each other in them. In both places, the small-village mentality of shared resources and social support create a nourishing environment in which to make art and feel alive. Living broke and in chaos is nothing new to New Yorkers, but the political, religious, financial, and historical situation in Italy is creating a whole generation of intelligent anarchists here. And Italian anarchy is a rare mixture of anti-fascism, anti-Catholicism, anti-nationalism, and anti-loyalty to any system, “in order to live without rules but with responsibility,” one friend told me. “Our homeland is the inner world. Our law is freedom.”
Last month, I created an artwork linking NYC’s Reena Spaulings Black Flag serigraph in the Fondo Regionale Arte Contemporanea (FRAC) collection in Piemonte to the research I have been doing with the Italian anarchists that I know here. I am constantly trying to comprehend how one sense of home (New York) fits with my other sense of home (Lindsay interiority).
The end of Artissima has arrived and none too soon. Writing made me an observer and not a participant. No one had their normal stoop-sittin’ time available. And the fair organized the normal chaos.
Artissima took place in Turin, Italy, November 9–11.