Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Mexican Experience

Interview in the t.v program "mujeres"

Just came back from the Mexican experience. I gave a lecture on Installation and Performance Art at the Latinamerican University in Q.Roo, it was full of students, teachers and a few artists, chairs weren't enough... after the first two nervous sentences I got into the atmosphere, I could feel the attention, for about an hour people stayed concentrated on my words and the images, the good thing is I have a loud voice and that helps bringing back attention.

Students were amazed by the installations, some were embarrased by performances like the one Vito Acconci made in the 70's called Seedbed (see ArtSEEN journal, issue 4, winter '07). After the conference, we had 20 minutes more of questions and then lot's of hugs!!! I realized how beautiful it is to have placed a seed of curiosity in people, it felt like opening a little window for them. I must say is one of the most beautiful sensations I've ever felt!!!

The exhibition had a lot of success too, articles were published, interviews on the radio, television etc... and I left an open door for a bigger project I might be doing there next year!!!

Now I'm back to daily life with a lot of enthusiasm, counscious that it is difficult to keep that joy alive all the time but thankfull to have experienced it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Per aspera ad astra

You know the story of Alice in Wonderland.
The red queen has to run faster and faster to keep still where she is. That is exactly what you are doing. Running faster and faster. But you are not moving anywhere.

U. G. Krishnamurti

The fact that few people are given a chance on a sliver plate has brought me in my life to make that chance happen by myself: from curating, to running a gallery, to establishing a magazine.

In my opinion ArtSEEN is "fuller" than other art magazines, because although it may have fewer pages, it's full to the brim of lengthy articles which provoke thought - as opposed to shorter descriptive articles that spell out what you ought to think.
As it is my opinion that the majority of the public does not wish tothink, as it is used to being spoon-fed, and told what to think from a very early age on.

The Art of Thinking is dead? Long live the Art of Thinking!

ArtSEEN journal differs from other art magazines also in the fact that it doesn't have ads printed in it, which usually account for some 70% of pages in other magazines: I am talking of Flash Art, of Art Forum etc. The "alternatives" such as Cabinet are again, different from ArtSEEN in the fact that they a) have money, b) have been around for a longer time.

We're new on the market, in a niche market, and in a niche of the niche market.
We don't have financial backing, nor do we have "fame" backing (i.e. none of us is a "famous" artist/curator/critic who thus has the "right" to establish a magazine “prestige”), we only have our will to try, our belief in creativity, art, and artists, quality, and in ourselves to go on with. Which, I notice, is alike the "American Dream" but it seems that nobody appreciates the hard work any more.

The fact remains that ArtSEEN does get a lot of positive feedback, does get a lot of "congratulations" from all over the world, and we get a big pat on the back for doing a great job, for standing up forwhat we believe in, for being brave and daring: yet the support is mainly verbal.

How long does it take for a project to get established? When is the right time to say "that's the end"? And who's to know whether the "next corner" holds the Big Break? It's a trial, and I don't know how the story unwinds. I wish to be very careful indeed, and not lose any chances that may be there. Which means, all that we can do to improve ArtSEENs standing this year, will be done.

Per aspera ad astra –it’s a thorny situation to get to the stars.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fashion Shows

"Scarecrow and the Pig" (2005)Paula Rego

Paula, can we begin by talking about when your work first came to broad public attention in Britain, at the beginning of the 1980s? That must’ve a very interesting time to be a figurative painter.
Yes, nowadays you can do a lot of different things, but then it was a question of what was in fashion, really. The studios in London were full of people doing huge abstract paintings. Earlier, when I was a student, it was alright to paint the figure, and then I did a lot of collages. They’re all figurative and they all tell stories. They’re quite political some of them. And none of that was at all popular until the fashion changed. And then it was again OK to do it.

Extract from The AI Interview: Paula Rego
Robert Ayers

For the interview in full, please visit:

I just had to post this in our blog! It’s that time at ArtSEEN when a lot of research is done, a lot of artists looked at, a lot or articles read, and a lot of websites visited…
I receive the ArtInfo newsletter via e-mail, and rarely have the time to sit down and read it. So this time it’s worked: I have time, and Paula Rego happens to be one of my own very admired artists (she does lovely, lovely prints!!!)

But I had to smirk when reading her reply to the first question asked her. Fashion! “Back then”? Well, it is just the same now, at least in the UK!
When I stepped into Wimbledon School of Art (now part of the conglomerate faceless University of the Arts London) to start my Master of Art studies, I was looking forward to touching, feeling, upturning every little pebble, studio, method that was on offer at the institution. After all, one doesn’t have the opportunity to make prints, lithography, video work, photography, and use of the spaces these studios provided at home. I even went to the introductory lecture for the BA first years on “how to stretch a canvas” – well, you know, one often takes ones skills for granted, so it’s always a good idea to go listen to somebody else talk about how to stretch a canvas. Yes, the guy knew his stuff!

Anyway, I took the whole year as one big opportunity to explore. Unfortunately, this atmosphere was hardly shared by my MA course companions, at least, not in the painting department. There was, and there is a Fashion to Painting, that most of my colleagues were determined to follow to a T. The look of the finished work had to be of a certain standard, and the subject matter, whether cityscapes, or landscapes, or portraits, had to be still. Still, as in stagnant, as in there is no space for an unexpected entry. Painting by Numbers, I called it. The whole palette was premeditated, and no deviation from such was acceptable to the artist-executor. Not only this, but my mouth dropped when I saw that a drawing up technique was implemented, and that nobody but me was having a trauma at this! Drawing was used only as a means of producing a sketch that would then be projected on the canvas, where the old pencil came back in into sad use, to trace the subject on the canvas, in order to follow it / fill it in colour by colour. And nobody seemed to even want to question this robotic, dry approach to one of the most luscious, alive mediums on the earth: oil painting!
This was the fashion, this was the “way to paint” and you could be “better” at it, or “worse” at it, but not deviate from it. Whereupon I am certain I wasn’t seen as a “painter” by some of my co-students during this year.
Actually, I didn’t paint: not in the classical sense at all. Fresh from my first experience in Performance, guided by Geoff Hendricks, I was seeing space in its own dimension, that is to say, in 3D. So, I started “painting” in space, or as it is, making installations.

It was at a pub that I received an “impartial” pep talk from one of the painters. It was said, in casual conversation, that Performance art and Installation art are fast slipping out of Fashion, and the Future is Painting. I nodded my head in agreement, refusing to accept this talk as personally aimed against my activities. After all, I haven’t followed fashion since the good old Grunge days back in the late 1980’s. I just have to accept that I am “out of fashion” – in the days I was painting, oil on canvas, no pencil, Installation, Video and Performance art were in fashion. Now that my creative process has taken me to this point, Painting is in fashion. I never get my timing right it seems. Shame. Dry crust of bread for me. (Anyone feel like buying a Performance out there? Going cheap, there’s a drop in the market!)

Thus the London Art World is still generated by the fashion machine. If you follow it, you’re in, if you don’t, at best you’re weird. At worst, you’re a failure. Either you see the world through standardised eyes, and if you dare to question, experiment, enhance, or even make a mistake, you are punished by being ignored by the art world. Forever and ever, amen.
Unless, of course, your particular process happens to come again into Fashion, for a few years.

So what is real? Everything is, and nothing is. To an artist, the process of making something “real,” the choice of what that will be, and whether it’s attached to the fashion of the moment or not, is our daily bread, or work.

I don’t know if bananas are fashionable, but here’s an artist who caught my eye, and made me smile (and that is saying a lot!) I love this project: Argentine-born artist Cesar Saez with a team of people is planning to launch a giant Banana to float over the Texan sky this year. It’s a playful idea, yet as the artist says, the Banana will be constructed by people who in the USA are frowned upon as “immigrants” usually with the word “illegal” attached to them as well. And a banana is a tropical fruit that reminds me of the lands where it grows: a stranger in some lands, and at home in others, and imported to some countries, whether as fruit, or as palm tree. A Foreigner that will be even more foreign while floating above Texas. One of the aspects of this project is that it is a totally legal one. One Legal Banana Immigrant in the USA.
Good luck Cesar & Team!


Note: the English language part of this website has trouble opening, I clicked on the Spanish language to get the details.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Documenta 12

Vorbereitungsarbeiten für den Aue-Pavillon Foto: Heiko Meyer© documenta GmbH

From the Documenta 12 Press Room:

Crystal Palace for documenta 12 Begins to Take Shape

Preparatory work on the exhibition architecture entered a new phase today: the Crystal Palace, the planned temporary exhibition building for documenta 12, is beginning to take shape. Preliminary work for the foundations began this morning.

First, large machines will remove 15cm of turf, after which a layer of sand and gravel will be laid, followed by a thin covering of asphalt, forming the basic foundation for the lightweight and airy pavilion.

This means that before the end of this week, the outline of this "Crystal Palace" will be traced on the meadow site. A shape or marking, a public sculpture even, out of which - providing the sponsoring and fundraising campaigns are successful - the Crystal Palace will rise. It was designed by the French architects Lacaton & Vassal using greenhouse construction techniques and will be built in partnership with Tim Hupe Architekten.

The exhibition architecture for documenta 12 is coming into view, an architecture designed to create space for learning experiences: "The moment when the exhibition is perceived not as a mere collection of sensational trophies, a junk room, a discourse factory, or a shopping mall, but as a broadly defined space for experience - that is the moment when the architecture has the task of enabling learning experiences." (Roger M. Buergel)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

In the Installation

A visit to the Pecci Museum in prato to check out the retrospective of David Tremlett

Always on the SEEN!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Almost in Mexican Land

Tomorrow I'll be getting to Cancun at 15:00 hours, I was invited by Ms Matty Roca, the Head of the Ministry for the Arts and Culture in Q.Roo, other than making a show there I'll be giving a conference in Performance and Installation Art at the University. I've prepared my self enough but still feel a bit "nervous" but at the same time happy to share knowledge. (believe me it wasn't easy to prepare a conference in my mother language since all my Art studies have been done in english and italian).

ArtSEEN will be presented after the conference and during the opening of the exhibition, hoping we will keep expanding contacts!!!!

I'll keep you update on the Mexican experience.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Cat Business

The cat has been left in AJ’s care for three weeks, while I was away visiting my family over the holidays. The cat is very attached to his family too. Which explains why he was stubbornly sitting on the mouse tonight, making computer work rather difficult!

Welcome to the second year of ArtSEEN journal! Work starts tomorrow, with reading all the emails that have come in, in the past weeks!

All news will be posted….

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


From the 15th of November to the 31st of December 2006 there were 58 Plus exhibitions in the Italian capital.

What is different in italy and specifically in Rome are the links that are created through people at varying levels and with a variety of jobs redefining just what it means to make contemporary art in this historic city

In any case I invite you to go and have a look at all the new art springing up like mushrooms and let us know what you think about the Roman Seen


Wishing all of you a fantastic 2007 from everyone at ArtSEEN Journal