We have to reconsider the processes of doing things. It is very good to be surrounded by different ways of understanding and different kinds of imagination.
Today’s society should become a common sharing of ideas in relation to representation, a common sharing of language. We have to create platforms based on concrete topics. Artists are precious because they keep a distance to the problem of productivity, they have an inner freedom.
In the eighties I didn’t have a lot of capital and I needed to produce works and in order to do this I had to approach businesses. Very quickly I realised that beyond sponsoring there were other possibilities. In 1989, while working on a large piece involving 22 tonnes of Marseille soap, I had my first experience of collaboration. I discovered that it was possible to create a partnership with companies, a multiple exchange: raw materials and savoir faire in exchange for thought, but also an exchange of communication favouring the company as well as its internal and social communication. Going back to Marseille soap: nowadays it is well known, but in those days within businesses it was not valued at all. Yet in the moment that it had been “touched” by an artist, things changed and even the factory workers felt that their work had become more important.
Following that, I wanted to intensify this activity by creating partnerships with various companies. In 1994 I personally created a company named U.R that has done many projects with artists and I formed a network, Woulways, with Zerynthia, with the Pistoletto foundation and other European partners, a network for producers of works of art that existed until 2005.
Now I have the opportunity of developing all this in a school for art directors, a structure that trains youngsters both to realise works for artists and to create flowing internal communication within businesses. A new profession.
There is a golden rule that must be observed and that is the client. The client of the business created by my father is a child, therefore a subject, a living being. This small character accepts as his toy only something animated that moves, makes noise and is colourful. The child wants to be able to discover his toy, to touch it be it soft, repugnant or fun. Producing plastic objects is very demanding. It is a high-precision process based on injection moulding that requires notable investment. It is a true school of precision and, given the required “gross” investment, the businessman tends to get stuck in serial industrial production without trying to develop it. I believe that the artist, the creator can be useful to “move” things. We must remember that a project is created for man, for a living being and that it has to attract his attention, seduce him creatively, even if to do this means having to change pistons and machines.
Contemporary art is a reflection on society. The artist can give the businessman a view outside with an active and creative gaze. And businessmen need this. In the dialogue with the artist and his ideas they must bring their technical competencies. In this way other forms of savoir faire can be born.
Art is part of our cultural and family heritage. I have always said that wine is part of our DNA, but art too is a part.
Our project, strongly wanted by my father, is that of a link to our territory, with the landscape. Instead of building a monumental building, we decided the landscape of Chianti Classico itself should be the façade of our winery. The winery is entirely buried, with two breaks in the hillside for light. From afar they look like two roads, we are talking about 43000 m2 underground, a project that was not easy to execute, but simple in concept. The project by the architect Casamonti is a modern one, but it does not obscure the traditional elements. I insist heavily on the contemporary and I believe that the person who is most suitable to the adaptation of tradition to the needs of innovation is the artist. It is he who can have a visionary viewpoint.
Ten years ago I constructed a business on a vision, the vision that there are too many cars on the streets, where an unbearable level of pollution has been created. I wanted to be the “actor of change”. I proposed car sharing. Changing behaviour takes a long time.
I think that lasting development is a guide for businesses, as it indicates the direction to go in, so that the initial be supported. Time is precious to the entrepreneur. A business has a long term and a short term. There is an initial, “existential” phase dedicated to the choice of a project. This phase is favourable to an encounter with artists. Visions can be shared, reflections can be made together. In the operative phase there is no more time – one is overtaken by the needs of employing staff, searching for funds and the development of the production. With sixteen-hour days.
In big companies things are different, there are several parallel projects, various products, varied technology and various markets. In big business permanent research is needed.
The word that creates great ambiguity is the word “collecting” which is a false friend because the proposal and the true opportunity is not the collecting by the companies that tend to buy corpses in that they are buying previously-made pieces for celebrative reasons. I am not going on hearsay, I am one of the founders of the Impresa e Cultura Award. I have seen nine hundred project in five years. I have also carried out a cultural project within our law firm. Initially I too let works of art in, but later the next step was to go for this so-called “lateral thinking”. Artists would come and do conferences, to talk about their work and to interact with us. This was the true stimulus, it gave us the tools to be able to interpret everything, including the works that were hanging from the walls. I can see with great interest the experience of the resident artist, of the artist who comes not with a project as such but rather with a vision of the world. Later we will see what will come from this. It could be a work of art, a change in behaviour or even nothing. The most beautiful projects are those that change mentalities, the very mental structure.
I think that collecting is propaedeutic. That nowadays an artist goes to a company and wants to enter into its production system is a wonderful thing, a revolution. As such, I don’t exclude the possibility that the company can breathe an air of contemporary art, quite the contrary; there is no limit to this. The multinationals are becoming Frankensteins that man will no longer be able to manage. The financial world has abused the economic world and is ceaselessly suffocating it. This moment requires strong interceptions because the economic crisis is dramatic. This is war.
Through contemporary art businesses have the possibility of entering the cultural system. But great humility is needed. Public and private are not two horses that have to show who finishes first. We businessmen have the duty of respecting the public because it is there that we are recognised. However we must also be careful lead the institutional world forward, otherwise there is stagnation. In fact I ask myself where the great Italian entrepreneurs were: the Barillis, the Agnellis, where were they? And the unions, where were they?
We are not against the system of art. The system of art as it functions today is fine. The point is that it is insufficient. Firstly it is insufficient for the artists, but above all it is insufficient for what is happening outside. Today there is no longer anyone from outside who can be called because we find ourselves in a global problem.
We must understand many things from the entrepreneurs and not only from them, but also from the workers. We must understand what is happening within their walls. They are thousands, hundreds of thousands and a visibility must be given to these faces.
The problem is finding a common language. All too often the artist is unable to make himself understood by the businessman. Likewise, all too often the businessman when communicating with the artist uses a language and interests that are too different. In this sense there is much work to be done and new ideas can come that are of reciprocal benefit. For the artist there is also the advantage of being able to open up an extraordinary market of alternative art to the system.
At Cittadellarte the heart or the brain, if its ideas we are talking about, is the school: the University of Ideas. Obviously this is no “normal” school with a teacher and learners, but it is a space, a meeting place where for four months twenty artists flow together from all over the world bringing different cultures and problems, only to discover that the problems are in fact the same, that is those that ecological thought makes us face. They are problems bound to the need for biodiversity.
The concept of sustainability includes both the problem of environmental impact and the possibility of being able to maintain a qualifying level of life and then extending this level of life to populations that still cannot enjoy it. At the same time it is necessary to keep the planet alive. Energy is everything: it gives us the possibility of cultivating a field, of living in healthier places etc. Energy is linked to life. It is a means with which to be able to keep alive. Within this discussion, art is placed as a meeting point between energy and the media used to produce energy. I insist that art should not have a marginal role, quite the contrary.
Both from a technical point of view and from that of sustainability we have reached the point where for the first time “ethical business” can be done, a type of business linked to recycling. In other words we don’t recycle only to save the world, but to make “earnings”. Recycling and so-called “ethical business” go hand in hand, and whoever of the entrepreneurs is able to unite these two factors will make a notable step forwards, and it is important that art becomes ambassador of this new way of thinking and acting.
Since the beginning of the nineties I started asking myself what the industry needs in order to grow internally and to be well represented. I have never had faith in media “gurus”. I think that the industry contains extraordinary resources, especially in our Country that can reap the rewards of centuries of experience.
I have understood that the missing link in my projects was the confrontation with art, or rather with the artist. I put together a project, Art and Industry, with the idea of bringing the two figures together, businessman and artist, to see what effect this combination could have and if it was able to upset certain things.
For the moment I am interesting in seeing how the artist consolidates his work using not only the materials of the industry, but having at his disposal a team of assistants an experts. It is incredible how one immediately empathises with the industrial material, falls in love with it, makes it his own, uses it as a tool of creativity and of debate. The work of art becomes a meeting point, it gives life to new projects.
What remains of a work if not experience? It is like a voyage that teaches us new things. Whoever undertakes such a voyage is forced to face a series of themes such as communication, the structure of the company, the budget, industrial materials.
It is precisely putting together work experiences of various people that can have unexpected results. I have come to realise that architecture serves to bring together people, things and space. Architecture is also a tool for communication between a company and its employees.
In order to enjoy the real benefits of work, economic wealth must be accompanied by intellectual enrichment.