The D/A/C project constructs a network of connections around a possible relationship between artists and entrepreneurs, that is, somehow the idea that artists on one hand and entrepreneurs on the other can find a common stimulus. Art should not be limited to its usual modalities, modalities that make it wither. Business, above all in times of crisis, can find new strength in art. This is the basic idea of D/A/C.
In Anacapri, this D/A/C is not only a round table, in fact today we don’t even have a table, instead there is a meeting around an exhibition. So for the first time a D/A/C meeting is held in the presence of a series of works and research that are presented precisely here in Anacapri.
Here today there are various people present, some of whom have set up the D/A/C: Mario and Dora Pieroni who have worked on this project for years and in various stages, alongside Fabrice Hyber. The adventure began in the mid-90s. Then for this meeting we have called upon some locals, people who in Naples have gone down similar roads. Today it is a pleasure to meet up, to get to know each other, each person bringing their own experience, amid these works of art. I should first of all give thanks to Federico Guiscardo’s hospitality for having us in his garden in the CapriClou gallery and for opening a place like Capri that is not usually open to this kind of thing, that is presenting projects that are not quite works of art but rather prototypes, ideas, attempts. I would like to hand the floor over first to Fabrice Hyber.
When, 24 years ago, I wanted to make a self-portrait of my work, I make the biggest soap in the world. Nobody wanted to do that, so I asked a soap Company in Marseille for support and they gave me 22 tons of soap. To my own surprise, this made sense also for the communication of the Company because it did something very active inside the Company, it became something very social.
They were involved in art without any market dealings. After that I decided to make my own art production company, this was in 94. At the same time I made the HYBERMARKET in the Museum of Modern Art of Paris. I transformed the Museum into a supermarket. After that I did a lot of things with companies and than I met Dora and Mario. We decided to set up a network – the name was Woolways – with Michelangelo Pistoletto and other artists and friends. We organized this network to produce art, to create a link between artists and companies. At the beginning it was not so easy to do because between art and production there is a big distance. After some years some collectors who were also producers began to change a little bit.
The idea of art connected to production became something more effective and production became a part of the work of art. Now with D/A/C and with all these actions we are proceeding. The problem is not to control things but rather to allow them to start. What we are doing is always to motivate somebody else to do something.
It’s interesting that you started in 94 and Giusi Laurino started her Fabrica del lunedì in 95 in Naples. Perhaps it wasn’t the same concept. What has changed in terms of economic situation since that period, I mean, when we look at it today? Has something changed?
In France in the 80s we had a lot of public money for art from the Ministry of Culture. At the beginning of the 90s, when I started with my work the money was less and I wanted more. So I asked for money by going directly to the companies. I also wanted to produce something inside the companies. After some years it was clear to me that it was not only about doing art pieces but producing art with people that were involved in the production.
I wanted to work not only with collectors or museum people, but to produce art with people who work in the companies and to involve them. It became an exchange of competences which means also the creation of a vocabulary. This fact changes a little bit the scale of art. Today I don’t need to make the world’s biggest soap, I want to make the soap together with the people producing soap.
It is no longer something you do in your atelier…
It’s happening less in my atelier. I started to think that I wanted to do something that can be done by everybody.
Giusi Laurino, what was the situation when you started with La Fabrica del Lunedì?
In 95 in Naples it was a time in which people started doing public art and forming a dialogue with the institutions. I, in particular, was trying to propose the idea of art tied to design, which I thought could be interezting. At the time there were still many companies, like the mosaic company, Bisazza in Vicenza. I had recently opened my small gallery, I proposed an exhibition with Alessandro Mendini to the Scuderie of the Palazzo Reale Stables but sponsored entirely by Bisazza. So we held this exhibition called Artinmosaico in which many great artists along with great designers created the landscapes of a city of the future. There was investment in research and there were still industries that may have been interested in this. These possibilities seem to have completely disappeared nowadays. I experienced in my gallery a series of events tied to different languages, such as ceramics, a craft from our area, working with Vietri among others. Important experiences that were looking to dialogue with the institutions. Again with Mendini I participated in the great project Stazioni dell’Arte in Naples. It was a great experience in that initial phase of the project in the metro.
Coming to the point, after this series of experiences, in 2009 I opened this space, La Fabbrica delle Arti. In this ex-shirt factory I wanted to create a place where resident artists could have the possibility of meeting manufacturers. Creating works that were neither pure design nor pure artistic products, not having been constructed by the artist in his studio, but rather as the fruit of this encounter. This was my quest. My failure was in not being able to find a market for all this. Because there was a great deal put into it by me, by the artists and by the manufacturers, but there was no response because the righ market was not the local one, but rather the international one. This is what I put to you: to find a way to produce and to gain a clientele. These artisans that I called signed the works with the artists, the experiment was that of bringing out the culture of MAKING. The culture of the materials would need to be valued and protected. The institutions could lend a hand through the chambers of commerce. Through La Fabbrica delle Arti I met some members of Slow Food, and I think that if we too in the field of art do as they did and create a sort of associationism, a network, and find important places in which to show our projects and studies internationally, we could make a mark. This is what the new markets are looking for.
The question is important and I would perhaps like to ask Valerie about this aspect. I would like to introduce Valérie who is the director of the HEC art centre in Paris and who has collaborated with us in setting up this exhibition. There is also the educational side, and as such the university. What has this experience of creating an art centre been like and what is the value of art in a place of learning like HEC?
HEC is a School of Commerce that is ranked among the top schools in Europe (the second or third). We train the future managers of global companies as well as young businessmen who at the end of their studies will have the possibility of setting up companies themselves. Art, and in particular contemporary art, naturally has a place in this context. In France there are very few initiatives dedicated to contemporary art.
In 1999 we created the HEC contemporary art centre and afterwards we organised exhibitions, residencies, thematic courses, conferences, seminars and a great deal of publications. Why did we do these things? The aim was to help our students and our community to acquire a sensibility for contemporary art, to realise the force that artists can have in the world of today. Art as such learns to look at the world around and to view it in a different way.
It’s a question at once cultural and economic. There is also business in art and so we also train cultural managers. What we teach also aims to prompt our students become collectors, players within the world of art; we encourage them to work with artists in order to develop as such a new vision of the world.
You told me that you are also part of a ministerial commission.
The Ministry of Culture created a Commission for Reflexion on Art and the idea is precisely that of strengthening relations between art and the world of work and business.
I wanted to ask Dora and Mario if you would like to tell us about the experience of D/A/C, of this network that you’re creating. We have seen that in French culture there is the presence of this Ministry, these structures that supervise, oversee, that work with the aim of moving away from French centralism towards a more international circulation, while in Italy things are rather different in this sense. In your experience, what do you think of this situation?
I think that in your text you posed the question: why Capri? Because it is an international showcase which is as such a central place in which to present the idea of D/A/C, the Shared Artistic Denomination. There have been various places around Europe where we have got together. The idea was indeed to create a mobile club that brings together people of various destinations. I’m pleased to see here today Massimo and Emilia Sterpi with whom we have shared experiences in the past with the aim of working together.
In the D/A/C round tables you never really know what can happen. However, if we get together, something does happen. For the first time, Anacapri is the setting for finished projects. So in terms of the past, another step has been taken. Capri is a showcase in itself. We have therefore created a showcase within a showcase. This new step could perhaps produce further steps; other realities could out of it. The network we have set up is important because it shares an idea. Today, regarding a problematic centralism, we all share the same need. Then there is always the pleasure of being together. Deep down, it’s as if we were home; there are neighbourhood-related problems, there is daily life and you never know how it will go. There are everyday things that you cannot foresee. Donatella, your work focuses on the relationship between private and public. I would like you to tell us about it.
I always find thinking about the relationship with industry, with production, very stimulating. What I find interesting is derailing the system of production in order to create something that is not quite an object of art; that is, finding a place between the two things, art and production. By doing this there is the possibility of communicating within a wider circle. Above all in Italy the artist has a tendency of becoming isolated.
My objects speak of the relationship between me and my objects. When I come out of my solitude and I have the chance to work with artisans or with industries, I still find myself facing two very different situations. With the artisan there is a direct encounter, a tighter relationship is established; a human relationship almost, like when I made the ceramics that I’ve brought here. The relationship with an industry is perhaps a bit more difficult, but even more stimulating. In a production system there are machines making, for example, boxes.
My ideas come to me precisely when I see how a production line works. It is when, for example, I skip a step in that production line that I am able to create something without losing out economically. Maybe another economy is added. This connection between art and industry that seemed impossible has over the years instead become ever more real, even creating a new dimension for contemporary art.
I would like to ask Fabrice something: with a commission is it you who imposes something on the industry or rather the industry that asks something of you and you who switches roles?
It depends. There are times that I already have a project and I find companies and subsequently adopt their materials and production processes. But other times we end up being able to invent something together. For example, the Italian entrepreneur, Roberto Crivellini – who came to me with Mario and Dora over a year ago – had a big problem with his textile company. He wanted to restructure it in order to bring it out if its impasse.
I simply asked him to talk to me about his life and about himself. He told me about his father who made shoes following the tradition of his region, Friuli. I suggested that he pick up on that, but create a series of shoes for just one foot: the UNA. You can see them in those display cases down there. We therefore invented something and developed it. It was above all a chance for him to become aware of his own situation and create a new life.
For me, in that case, it allowed me to invent something as there was nothing to begin with. Today, given that on average we have reached the age of 90, we all have at least two lives. We have to adapt to this circumstance, we have to deal with it.
A commission is a stimulating moment. I would like to ask Benjamin to step in, Benjamin who is also in that Ministry Commission for the relationship between art and industry, but who also works for himself on that relationship, carrying out historical studies on the theme. How does an artist of your generation who knows this relationship well work on this? Is it a treasure to be found, an example to develop? In which direction do we go today regarding a museum system that is completely different?
The problem is that today the practices are many and multiform. It is no longer necessarily a case of the old way of working, that is, the artist alone in his studio. Very often artists need to be accompanied by specialists in order to develop projects of very different scopes. From a historical viewpoint we see artists that have created their own businesses. Fabrice who is here next to me created his business structure in order to produce things.
All this obviously poses questions. One must question oneself on the functioning of these processes. More than businesses, certain artists have created veritable industries. I think of Murakami or Damien Hirst. They question the artist/industry relationship, we see certain mechanisms being put into motion in which the industry is no longer just a means but also an essence and a reality that makes us think. We tend to veer more towards the exchange of encounters and less towards the simple process of production, an almost industrial production.
With Murakami, who produces thousands of paintings, surely this question must come up. His intellectual and critical interest, which goes beyond the production itself, can be seen. In history, from as early as the 60s certain artists can be found who started to work within businesses in order to produce things, playing with the adoption of a system of an economic nature. I think that nowadays this is the artistic aspect that is most interesting to observe…
There is another aspect that interests me, that is the exhibitive space. Here we are inside a showcase such as Capri. Normally the artist creates works and his dream is to display it in a museum. In this artists/industrial production encounter, artistic space often becomes something else. Not only the museum, the Kunsthalle, there is also the market, the place of consumption, auctions, etc…
Regarding my personal history, starting with the 1991 Lyon Biennale, the intention was that of presenting a collection of open ideas. That was an exceptional moment. The “Giant Soap” I had created had been around all the supermarkets in Europe: in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Germany. It was always presented in the car parks. We would place a small advert in the local newspapers and there were always hundreds of people awaiting the arrival of the “Soap” in a big white truck carrying that 22 tons of soap.
The truck wasn’t very pretty and in fact often the people were rather disappointed. Really my idea was to show that it was not the form that was important but the matter itself. I would later work again with supermarkets for different projects and then I exhibited the HYBERMARCHE’ at the ARC, turning the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris into a supermarket. I wanted to show that nothing is definitive and that every time the experience of the artwork is new.
A meeting for creating objects of a particular statute which then however have to find space, a situation, as we were saying with Giusi. After LaFabbrica del Lunedì you created this other reality, La Fabbrica delle Arti which was also an educative space.
Yes, it was above all a space dedicated to youth. The rather important idea was to create a space for experimentation, which I did with artists and artisans. Prototypes for this space were created. In my opinion, it was important to bring both out of their established space. Creating an alternative space creates a different flux. Everyone, inside their own space, is engrossed by the preoccupations of everyday life.
This is the case for the artist as it is for the artisan, for the manufacturer, for the small business. Taking them out of context means committing them to a different way of thinking. But it is also necessary to take these works to a vaster public. What we wanted to do was create something more accessible for a nurtured market, not for true collectors, but for art lovers, to allow them to enjoy the beauty of art. Through public art we can all enjoy it, but in private art there are few who can afford to. A new solution must be found.
In the 60s there was this idea of multiples having to constitute a democratic art, but that was different, it wasn’t tied to production.
I am a surgeon, a researcher, I taught for 40 years. I am a lover of all that is beautiful, of ancient art, of the 17th century, and of contemporary art. The 17th century is of great interest to me because for Naples it was the most beautiful period. I have relationships with many gallery owners, I have tried to surround myself with beauty and to make my spaces available to artists, such as the Saracen tower in Campanella. It is a very particular place that has seen a great many artists.
So I love art, I love artists. This discussion today for me is totally new and I apologise if I come across a little naive. I can’t understand the difference between the goals of the various elements, industry, art, craft. It’s difficult to understand the difference between an artist and a designer. Is Dalisi, for instance, an artista or a designer? What about Ettore Sottsass or Giò Ponti? It is very difficult to say that this object is an artistic object, but if we produce a million copies of it, is it still artistic? I find the concept of a network very interesting. I find it extraordinary and if it’s possible to set it up will be a wonderful thing and the aim should also be to find financing, like with tourism.
But what slant would I give it? The artisan in art is nothing new; likewise using manufactured products is even a subject taught in academies. What then is new? Today we have new, extraordinary materials that often the artist doesn’t know and that instead could be useful in creating new situations. This is how the first plastic objects came about, chairs and so on. The new material has influenced the way of creating. Industries could be interested in supplying these materials.
As far as crafts are concerned, artists have had ties to this sector for millennia, they know everything there is to know about it. What they don’t know on the other hand is the evolution that there has been in recent years in terms of materials.
I’m a lawyer involved particularly in art foundations in Italy and abroad.
I would like to say two things: one in answer to the initial stimulus regarding the fact that a business of great value could fail due to being unable to find a commercial outlet. I would like to say, in a positive sense, that perhaps in that historical moment all of it could be consigned to failure, but today the situation is exactly the opposite. Being in a period of robotization where more and more perfect objects will be created with no need for human intervention, the objects with a human contribution gain added value, from an artistic viewpoint, a conceptual as well as communicative value. The artistic intervention renders the object unique, and this will inevitably acquire greater value. Italy, the cradle of craftsmanship, is destined to attract more and more attention. We can see the success of the Miami Design Biennial where in reality there are editions for design, not art. The 70s saw an attempt to democratise art through the multiples of art. Here on the other hand we are talking about creating hybrid objects.
We are talking here about hybrid objects between art and productivity which is completely different from the Michelangelo Pistoletto project of the Seventies.
The second thing I wanted to share with you: two days ago I received interesting input from the Sicilian painter Francesco Laureta who is playing around with the concept of painting. It’s always something different. The last show was completely awful and I asked him: Francesco what happened to you? He answered in a really clever way that he was trying to de-identify the artistic object. He wanted to create an object which contains the negation of the painting itself. He divided the painting into pieces and made a table out of it. Which means the destruction of the painting. I found this very contemporary. The traditional artistic object finds difficulty in its existence and destroys itself by violating its own state, trying to add something.
There is certainly not a continuum between art and any form of creativity, design and whatever else. Drawing the line between art and other forms of creativity is no longer possible. The impact is the real problem of new objects, not the number of the editions. It can be one piece or a million pieces if the created object is good enough.
Murakami in his project for Vuitton poses that problem. Can we still talk of art or not? The failure of previous operations was precisely an economic one.
I don’t don’t think of failure but some changes are necessary. It is in getting together with others, in the plurality of professions, that new ideas come out. The network, in this sense too, is precious.
Talking of Murakami, with luxury comes the problem of marketing. It’s not so easy to see where marketing begins and art ends. This hybridisation you speak of is beginning to be studied in management schools.
Athina, as an artist you also participated in the D/A/C meeting at the HEC in Paris. Would you like to say something on behalf of the artists.
I think this is a marvellous experience. We met for the first time in Paris. We then see that this is then extended to an equally marvellous island like Capri. This is a showcase on an international level. Already in our group there people form all over the world and this fact indicates that what we have here is something new. What was said just now is very important. This novelty that we artists search for is the novelty of the artwork which is not tied to the means of production; even if everything is changed or modified, what is constant is the work itself as a final result. It is this result that interests us. The problem is the work of art, the location and its reach.
In fact it is precisely reach that we are looking for, that’s it. It is not something which is merely material.
There is no such thing as a new work of art, instead there is a work seen in new light, in a new day. We must measure ourselves. Capri has a very long history and at the same time an absolute contemporariness. We come here from a metropolis like Paris and pick up our discussion here. Personally, I’m very interested in this kind of extension. It is in this sense that a new work can be created.
Let me just say a couple of things in French: the discussion earlier about art today is interesting. We were talking about production. The question from my point of view really is art as a result and how this will be perceived considering this place that we have been able to work in today. It is always the result that counts. It is because of this that we are here and in Paris before.
I would like to ask Fabrice just one more question. Has the artistic process in the encounter with industrial production gone through a mutation? Has this given rise to another process?
This creates a form of conduct. We can have works of art that are not only to be looked at, but with which we can share something. Even a virtual piece can be a work of art. It just need to be valued.
I think however that there is a difference between design and what an artist does even if there are obviously some borderline cases. Over our many years in this business we have worked with a great number of artists but we have never seen something come from research of functionality. It comes from a wish to communicate, to change something. We introduce the word ‘conduct’. Over these days we have talked together. In fact our meetings serve also to grow together and to talk. It must also be said that we have not had an easy time of it. Personally, at a certain point I even panicked.
This is a very particular context that we have to take into account. We have had heated conversations with Federico and his mother on the various possible approaches for this experiment. There are several economic mechanisms that don’t necessarily fit together. When you go to a place like this what you want of course is to cross boundaries, but you are obviously on slippery terrain. For me it is very important to go back over everything that has been done here. We become aware of precise messages.
There has really been an invitation to change mentality. Once you, Massimo Sterpi, spoke of your experiences and you said that the most important thing is that they change your head. This can happen in many ways. What radically differentiates us from what goes on in the street, outside this garden, where there are clearly souvenirs, is that in here there is a factor of change. This experience for me has been really precious, but I repeat, it has not been an easy, linear process.
Going back to the idea of extension, I just wanted to add that we all know we have too much. The real problem is that none of it, no object, is of any use. We have far too much. When we create the network today it is not to create new products but to bring what we have into the network. I believe this is what youngsters are doing. This is an extraordinary moment, new compared to how it was when we started. Many years ago there was the problem of making something perfect. I started out with Alviani, everyone knows about his precision. Today there are problems and the artist is a central figure because the artist works for the world – I always say the same thing: the artist doesn’t work for himself, he works for the world; he is able to create a new vision.
I truly thank the masters of the house who have offered us a private space for a public event. This is extraordinary. It is like entering a private space and having the chance to dialogue deeply, without pretence. When I saw Fabrice writing on the display cases I watched with admiration because he was indicating that these objects of his were for everyone. So we think that with art we can bring a different vision, an extension as Athina said.
You take a risk because you need to.
I would just like to bear witness to what we call the opportunity of the object or giving the object an opportunity. Emilia has a company that deals with transferring design ideas, transferring commercial ideas, etc. When they moved office we had to furnish the new one and give it an identity. Instead of going to IKEA and buying lamps or going to Cappellini and buying better lamps, we asked various artists and designers to create objects for that setting. It is a common work space that through art becomes an extraordinarily interactive space. Just like our hosts here have allowed their home to be used as a public space, we decided to carry out an experiment in the office by turning it into a living place.
For us this has been very important. We have opened this neoclassical garden to a contemporary experience and we have made it available to the citizenry.
I thank everyone for coming and having participated in this D/A/Cmeetingin Capri that has for the first time taken the form of an exhibition, in a space that is presented for the first time on this incredible island. We now close this discussion and open the exhibition. We close the D/A/C and open it.