We are at the 11th DAC meeting. DAC is a project that most of you know. The main goal is to organize moments like this where producers and artists get together around the same table. Today we have a very special table, a project by Yona Friedman, Jean Baptiste Décavèle and Nico Dockx. We are sitting here around these hardboard boxes which are an art piece.
First of all I would like to thank our host, Bert Van de Linde, technical director of Permasteelisa which is the sponsor of the Dutch Pavilion curated by Lorenzo Benedetti.
This meeting, made possible by Bert and Lorenzo, is quite important because we spent 10 appointments to find a method of DAC, to define the spirit of DAC and to see how producers and artists can really work together. Now we start a second level. We have here producers who developed projects with artists and/or architects providing examples of how these two worlds can dialogue and can create new ways to conceive the product as well as the company. At the same time there is a new territory for art.
You are all welcome in this house of Permasteelisa. We have the honour of using the Palazzo Giustinian Lollin for a number of meetings.
The first thing I want to point out is that if you bring art in production it should be interesting in terms of business. Maybe for the small entrepreneur this might work out better than for the big entrepreneur. But, generally speaking, we have mostly to forget that the entrepreneurs will be eager to cooperate. Of course, if you start something as an entrepreneur you would like to see it finished. Many companies wouldn’t probably mind to be involved but they don’t see how to bring it together. Industry can provide some service for art in terms of material or of knowledge. But the question is how to get it together.
I think what you are saying is very close to what Mario Pieroni means when he says that it is difficult to have artists and producers speaking together if there is no mediation, if there is no filter. You have to give a guarantee to the producer.
The mediation of professionals and experts of contemporary art in the relationship between entrepreneur and artist is moreover fundamental in helping the entrepreneur take the correct approach. When speaking of a product it is easy to linger on the strictly aesthetic and visual side, on the concept of beautiful and pleasant, which are not to be excluded, whereas the artist, thanks to his intervention, delves deeper, reinventing the idea of the product itself and intervening on different levels of the organisation and the relational dynamics linked to the business.
In DAC the mediation is fundamental. Two totally different mentalities come together and need a translation. To realize a project you need continuity, it’s not just one meeting, things are not easy. Somebody has to give the guarantee to both sides that a project can be realized.
For me the meeting in Middelburg was a pure coincidence and it was between friends and started in the pub. It was nice to be in that environment. Since then I have been thinking about what we actually mean when we talk about stimulating a cooperation between the industry and the artistic world. I personally find it a very difficult subject to give it some structure and to figure out how it could increase. I don’t have the solution for that, the only thing that I can say is that in a world with a changing economy, when there is less money, the governments are always trying to move some responsibilities to the entrepreneurs. Of course in the good times you don’t need this and in the bad times it might not work. Personally I think that the role of governments should be less.
An important thing to say is that we should create many more two-way relationships. In all former DAC meetings we talked more about art than about production. As a producer you feel that there is no balance between the two parts. A two-way discussion would be more interesting and positive.
I’ve practiced supporting art for a long time. As a private person, a collector and as a foundation I have been instrumental to the production of art works on many occasions, the Sydney Biennale, Documenta, this Venice Biennial etc. I am quite trustful about these collaborations. My attitude has always been very faithful to the artists and their visions. My husband and I have been very lucky to meet good artists. The relationship that is established between an artist and a producer is a very delicate and difficult one. It is, as Mario pointed out, very important to have someone doing mediation. Acting together and working together is positive for all parts. I have seen many very good results and I can say that I do encourage this kind of process. Especially in Italy we all need to be a little bit more responsible. There is a lot of work to do together also for younger generations.
Staying on the theme of the Biennale, here we have with us Luca Vitone and Maria Candida Gentile who have collaborated together in a project for the Italian Pavilion.
I have been invited here because, together with Maria Candida Gentile, I produced an artwork, but I don’t think that it is an example of what you are talking about. Our way of working was very simple and classic. The idea of my project in the Biennale is about smell, a kind of perfume. In order to be able to do the project, I needed to collaborate with a ‘noose’. So thanks to my gallery I met Maria Candida Gentile and together we started to work; a normal collaboration which we paid for. The final perfume was spread in the space. You can go and smell. Behind the smell is a story, the dust evaporates from eternity. This was my idea. We had an economical support which enabled us to do research. All the artists from the Italian Pavilion were supported by private people. All of us could produce new work.
In terms of the cultural system in Italy you have a very different situation compared to the ones of other European countries. Public support is weak. Now, with the involvement of private people, we have witnessed a change of attitude. This is particularly important in a time of economical crisis.
Maria Candida Gentile, you are in some way a producer because you produce your own line. Starting with your ‘excellent nose’ you then apply the results to a product. Has the collaboration with Luca Vitone stimulated you and given you new ideas for your work?
I am a ‘nose’ and I deal exclusively in artistic perfumery; I do not work with commercial or chemical perfume. For my research I use particular and natural raw materials. Usually my area of application is perfumery, but in some cases I delve into the field of the psychology of smell and of curing sick people. The research I have carried out for Luca has been new ground for me. Through the use of all the molecules I know – I know over four thousand – I interpreted his wish, supplying those bitter traces that Luca had asked me for.
In the last weeks I have been totally involved with my double presence in the Biennale, the show of Gioni and the Italian Pavilion. Rather than speaking I would like to invite you to see my installations. In the second location I made a laboratory concerning the possibilities of the body, elaborating research I had already undertaken in the past. My intention is to give a key permitting the viewer to invent or modify reality. So following my idea and the mechanism I created, you choose materials to make projects, but at the same time you also can dream, you can defy reality. My research is based on the possible; everything is related to this question. You have the possibility to use the brain, to imagine and do projects and you have the possibility to dream. The two things are in contradiction but stay side by side. The possible, as Marcel Duchamps said, is something to be examined without any trace of aesthetics, ethics and metaphysics.
As the daughter of an entrepreneur I have a dual position. In my youth I have seen my father dedicate a lot of time, energy and attention to art and culture. It was not separate from what he did in the factory, it was part of it. There have been workshops, artistic forums, theatre and also exhibitions. Later he created a foundation. I choose to be an artist and I’ve been working as an artist all my life. Nine, ten years ago I entered the Foundation running workshops for young artist who I invited to do brainstorming. During the whole time of their stay their work together with an older artist, a historical but a still working figure, was able to inspire them. They do analysis of ideas and artworks and at the end together they produce an exhibition.
As an artist you love producing. I believe that as an artist you can bring something to the industry. It’s not simply two-way traffic where the producer is giving money and the artist is making objects. The point is to work together on a project. There are similarities but I think also the complementarities are very good, it’s an exchange based on differences.
For example, I personally have done a lot of books, I’ve been working for fifteen years with books and I learned a lot with the printer. The collaboration gives me feedback to make other books but at the same time the printer receives new suggestions for the printing process. It’s an exchange between me and the printer, the artist and the company.
Today we have another producer here with us who is developing a new production. For this reason he wanted to meet Fabrice Hyber who knows very what we are talking about thanks. He reflects abour relation between enterprice and art since 1999, even before, whene he opened his own production company U.R. and shortly after – together with Zerynthia, Fondazione Pistoletto, Dena Foundation and others – Woolways, an organism based on exchanges between producers, artists and Public Institutions.
For more than 20 years I have been working with companies and with producers. At the time I needed material and money for a project, the biggest soap in the world. The French government at the end of the nineties was in a critical economical situation. Less and less money was available for culture. So I decided to get directly in touch with the producers. Regarding the soap project, I made an effort and the company of Marseille soap made an effort and the two efforts made the art piece possible.
Today my work is mostly dedicated to theoretical experiments. In this moment I am involved with the creation of a school for artists. My aim is to teach them how to find producers and how to realize work together with producers. Therefore I am trying to find more links with producers not only in order to realize objects but also to create new ideas, new possibilities. I will certainly do a project with Rivellini; it’s nice to start something new.
I’m here because of the crisis and because of the coincidence of things of my life that brought us together. For many years I was in the textile business. Our company during 2008-2009 understood that things had changed completely. There was no longer a sufficient request for our home textiles. Consumers had shifted to different products connected with a new lifestyle. The new story I am starting has its roots in my childhood. My parents used to have a grocery, that kind of place where you can find everything. There were also little shoes made by countrymen from Friuli, my region, out of recycled material: old bicycle tyres and jute bags to create the shape of the shoes and whatever cloth they had at home to cover the top. These shoes were used for the work in the fields and later as home shoes. I had worn them for all my life. Today these shoes are becoming my new business. As a collector I have been close to art. This fact encourages me to look for a collaboration with artists. I am very happy that Fabrice has responded to my invitation. In the end the crisis was of good help.
I like when artists talk about a crisis. A crisis is a moment to define things.
Today’s crisis is worldwide, it is not just an economical crisis, the crisis also touches the art system. I think that when Mario and Dora, who had one of the most established galleries in Rome, years ago decided to close the gallery and open a foundation, they felt that the old system was obsolete. The gallery seemed to them not longer the right container for producing and exhibiting art. The same problem today exists with Biennales and even with Documenta. Are they still good containers? I don’t know, things are becoming quite chaotic. To create a continuity with what had been before in the art world is rather difficult.
Today we need to establish a direct communication between the private, the producers and art. The relationship is positive for all involved. We have to create open windows. A foundation is a place where you produce culture and the collaboration with artists is not so difficult; for an industry the situation is different. It’s not just about giving to industry more image, nor to art simply money. It’s about art entering the process of production, to start working together. This means a real change.
It seems to me that there are two issues and maybe it’s good to be very clear about this. One issue is that of the democratisation of art and the other is that of artistic production. The two do not necessarily have to go together because if things are forced so that they do go together, we create a sort of negative utopia that has been characteristic of all dictatorships. This should be very clear: art is not at the service of democracy; it creates a democratic atmosphere and makes an exchange between people possible.
There is the matter of the relationship with industry and I have had some experience in that sense. Two years ago I had a very close relationship with two study centres of two great Italian companies, one that produces lamps and as such light – Guzzini, and the other was Adnkronos which is a press association. I asked both to make something for a piece of mine that in my mind was possible to realize but for the two technical studios it was not. This unconscious stimulus on my part, absolutely imaginative, meant that Adnkronos would go on to produce software for managing a certain field of information and Guzzini would instead give life to a truly industrial production for a light that interacts with people’s feelings. This experience tells me that there can really be a collaboration, and what’s more an unconscious one. The more it is based on a non-specific request to realize something on an imaginative level, the more it can be productive. This I believe should be the sense of an exchange with the world of production, that is a capacity and a desire on both parts – the producers and the artists – to abandon everything they already know and venture into an unknown world.
I think I have a particular vocation for art and my company was born in this spirit. Everything I have done for roughly forty years in my company I do with love, as if each day I were painting a canvas. How much can I transmit through this everyday work? Clearly I tried to first make the frame. But it’s rather hard to talk about art in a world of industrial production. Today our company has a hundred and twenty employees and exports to forty-three countries around the world. When we communicate that our company is close to the art world, we often don’t find any particular sensibility on the part of the workers. In the industrial world in which I live and in which I am forced to make almost daily assessments it is very difficult to think of investing in art which by nature works in the long term. If I didn’t have retailers that are always careful to save money, my commitment to art wouldn’t be possible.
I would now like to ask Jean Baptiste to explain his and Yonas’ project which is looking for cooperation.
Let’s start with Bert. We met in the DAC meeting in Middelburg which was a consequence of the DAC meeting in Rome in January 2012. There I had shown a video about the project of Yona Friedman, of the iconostase conceived as a extension of the Museum. We then developed the idea. When Dora and Mario invited us to stay here today we talked with Yona Friedman about what could be the next step after the iconostase in order to develop a process able to include many persons and join common and complementary skills. The Yona’s answer was, since we are in the Biennale, let’s develop what he calls the “Musée Biennale”. It’s a very clear proposition. He wrote a little note about it.
“We all know Biennales”. Those in Venice, Paris, Moscow and many other cities. A Biennale is an exhibition, an art fair, open for one or two months every two years; a presentation of artworks, a provisional window. The proposal “Musée Biennale” is similar but also different. The idea is to exhibit a selection of works of art, which have been loaned by the artists, in the form of street furniture for the duration of two years. This is therefore a provisional museum, in relation to other places, that has its own particular scenic design that is different every two years. Contrary to normal exhibitions, the scenery would not a be a simple superimposition of the works that are to be exhibited but a work of art containing those that are exhibited, presenting them as a sole collective piece, a work of art itself. If possible in a public space, in the open air, in a square, in a park, in a place where people walk.
In a Biennale each Pavilion has a curator, here we will work all together, we will share our skills and our knowledge. Dora, Mario, Nico, Giovanna, myself. We welcome everybody who wants to be with us. Yona mentions the installation he did with “Musée dans la Rue” in Como which had the aim of exhibiting things in the street. As Annie said, there is a crisis and for me a crisis is a moment where you have to redefine things. I am very happy to be here. We come from very specific activities and have the wish to put together our knowledge and to create a common language. We need a common structure to go on.
The point is that we don’t know each other. Artists don’t know the world of producers but generally they are fascinated by production, they are fascinated by machinery, by materials. The artists we invite to the Foundation to run our program love to go to the factory. The way they use the machines is very interesting, they are intrigued by the idea of using our systems. Of course, what they do becomes part of their work but at the same time it enters our production process. Also the young artists in residency want to visit the factory, they love to go there and to produce something for the annual exhibition. They consider it an incredible border experience and often they ask to come back after the residency is finished. All this is very important also for the factory and I would say for the whole territory.
Many things happen because you know each other and a common understanding is produced. I selected the artist for a project because our daughters are going to the same school and we started to talk together picking them up after school. Things just happened. There is no common understanding without speaking together. Today we are here and we discuss and maybe it is the first step in materializing something, in doing something together. Our dialogue is on going. If you want to structure things in a forced way it will never work. Contacts are so important.
There was an interesting press conference here this morning before our meeting. It was about the differences between the way of making and producing art in Holland and in Italy. You find two completely different worlds. In Holland the Public Administration is predominant, in Italy things move more through private initiatives.
We had an example earlier of how Italian culture is sustained by the private sector when the public sector is not sufficient. Here today we also have a representative the Public Administration. I would like to hand over the floor to Andrea Dapretto, Councillor for Town Planning, State Land Administration and Public Works in Trieste, who is interested in Yona Friedman’s project. Yona himself, who Mario and Dora recently met in Paris, has explicitly asked to be confronted not only with private producers but also with someone who oversees things publically.
Jean Baptiste, I would like you to have a dialogue concerning the “Musée Biennale” with the person representing the Public Administration of Trieste.
For Yona it is very important that art is developed also in public spaces and outside of buildings. This should engage everybody, artists, entrepreneurs, the administration and the people of the city. Of course everybody has their own constraints. Yona, like most people here, believes that you can transform these constraints into something positive, into a common understanding. It’s one of the Yona’s basic concepts to make architecture with and by the people. He also is convinced that some artists will take part in the project by lending pieces. We are talking about a mobile structure in a long-term situation.
The draft of your project is already very clear and very interesting. In recent years museums have been built that are often self-referential, machines for celebrative use. Yours is in fact a great theme, the Musée dans Rue, a museum in a public space, without barriers, accessible to everyone. I think that art can again become part of the urban landscape in a significant way. If we think of old cities of the fifteen, seventeen and eighteen hundreds, art was part of the landscape very clearly and strongly. Then little by little there came about a reverse tendency. I think nevertheless that art can go back to being a great vehicle for dialogue, for experimentation and for innovation. I like this draft by Yona Friedman that in a very simple way explains how this new museum can be in dialogue with the people.
In this period the administrations – I speak for Italy and in particular for my city as the realities I know best – have little resources. But I think that already by making some public spaces available and knocking down the bureaucratic barriers something can be done. In the meantime, a better and greater use of the city can be reached, condemned and forgotten spaces can be opened to the public. Let us allow art to possess a garden, a square or a street. It is for this reason that the city of Trieste is very open to this proposal by Yona Friedman