Bonami possesses numerous qualifications and unquestionable success
in the field of art: Manilow Senior Curator of the Contemporary
Art Museum in Chicago, member of the Advisory Board for the next
Carnegie International - 2004; member of the Permanent Board of
Manifesta; he was member of the scientific committee in the first
Triennial of Yokohama in 2001; and one of the curators of Aperto
93 at the Venice Biennale; has recently been appointed as the curator
of the 50th Venice Biennale to be held in 2003.
in 1893 as the Esposizione biennale artistica nazionale (biannual
exhibition of Italian art), in 1894 a section was reserved to the
show for foreign artists, the Venice Biennale at its 50th Edition
in 2003, is the biggest international exhibition (from 1942 to 48,
following the outbreak of hostilities during WW2, the exhibit was
suspended). Considered the highest achievement for living contemporary
artists, quoting Francesco Bonami - in the last ten years
its importance has declined, and almost 70% whose work was shown
in the last decade have disappeared. It anyhow still represents
a most successful aim for all those who are involved in an artistic
started from a strictly artistic education. At the Academy of
Florence I specialized in set designing, and I dedicated myself
to painting, a self-taught artist as I am a self-taught curator.
performing your function with the Biennale, that makes you responsible
for choices which will influence the artistic market, and will form
new trails on which the future history of art will develop. In your
opinion, what is contemporary art? It is a continuous laboratory
of research. It therefore escapes from final judgment, as opposed
to ancient and modern art where a temporal dimension plays, allowing
an evaluation. On the contrary, the comparison now is almost frustrating
since the spectator is unsatisfied with this continuous experience.
criteria do you apply in your search for an artist? I look for
those who leave open possibilities, and avoid those artists who
- still valid - are defined, concluded, those who let you understand
where they have arrived and whose work is predictable. I want to
discover if there is a direction which is worth following. It is
in this way that I chose the 63 Italian artists at the exhibit in
Turin, Italy, for the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation. Certainly,
they do not all have the same weight, but the criteria which guided
me in the choice concerned quality of the work of art, a certain
capacity that can also rise from failure, the possibility of catching
a glimpse of a specific world, be it private or exterior. A work
of art is a work of art only if it is itself.
can you identify this possibility? You can perceive
it from the openness of the work, from its intrinsic force.
is therefore the artist? The one who is a cannibal becomes an
artist, the one who eats all the aspects of society, digests them
and is able to give them back. The spectator looks at this transformed
reality, and even if he cannot understand it thoroughly, he perceives
the complexity of society and it seems to him that he is able to
touch the world. The work of art becomes a window on the outside.
are divided between two worlds, the American and the Italian. What
is the difference between the art that distinguishes the two nations?
The American artist looks at an object and observes it for such
a long time that in the moment in which he reproduces it, a new
completely transformed interpretation is born, which is not tied
to a private identity. The Italian starts from universal conceptions
until he reaches the object in question, from a grandiose ambition
to the limited. The same happens if we compare the Italian artist
to the European one.
what kind of influence does this nation exercise on the world of
art? It gives us a rather important lesson with all its contradictions.
>From an obsessive and oppressive tradition it is developing
a tangible line of strength with its projection towards an imagined
or imaginary future. We are witnessing a total transformation of
identity inside a very ancient system. In Italy, from a mono-cultural
society we are starting toward a multi-cultural one, and the artists
are taking on this monstrous change by embracing it with fear but
also with a certain courage. An extremely interesting and very traumatic
2003 Venice Biennale, of which you will be the curator and to which
you have given the title: Dream & Conflicts - the viewer's
dictatorship, is your next commitment, would you like to talk
of it? With an exhibit like the Biennale we enter Kairos, the
opportunity, opposed to Kronos, the museum institutions, that is
the practice of lasting in time. For the first time in history in
the choice of a curator, they applied a technical method and they
reached me. A surprise for everybody, first for the fact that by
following a method a result was given, and then, at a personal level,
that they have chosen me who has no method. The Biennale has as
a thesis: internationality, its antithesis is given by the national
choice, from which there is a synthesis represented by an international
artist who encloses a national entity still conserving an open and
global vision. It is therefore the same nature of the Biennale to
represent a clash, reflected in Dreams and Conflicts.
The subtitle: the viewer's dictatorship is born from
the change that works of art have gone through in the last ten years
with videos and video-installations, the times of which oscillate
from 140 to 270. The audience at Dokumenta, for example,
commented that it took about 200-250 hours for the videos only,
and at least other 100 to peek out to the other works of art. I
try to give back to the audience a certain power and freedom, by
taking in consideration not people in charge, but the average spectator
who approaches art out of curiosity and not only of duty.
article first appeared in the Italian publication l'Adige and is
posted in English with the publisher's permission.
Ballardini, Italo-American journalist, translator and artist, lives
in Bolzano, Italy. After her effort of translating into Italian
swimming through water, collection of 181 poems by George
Wallace, soon on the market by La Finestra (introduction by Paolo
Ruffilli; David Amram; Marco Albertazzi, editor; comment by Mary
de Rachewiltz; note of the translator and interview by Ballardini
with Wallace; pages 450), she has undertaken the task of letting
the American audience get in contact with the poetry and essays
by Arturo Onofri, work she is carrying out with assistance in revision
from George Wallace.