Welcome to the tenth DAC (Denominazione Artistica Condivisa) meeting. DAC is an itinerant project that has come to Trieste for the first time thanks to Trieste Immagina and to the Gruppo Immagine who I would like to thank for having accommodated us as a collateral event within the exhibition. Today we also have among us certain representatives of public administration, and so DAC has expanded to include this category with the aim of touching what could be the insertion of contemporary art within public administration. We have with us Mayor Roberto Cosolin, who I greet, and the councillor for Heritage, Property and Public Works, the architect Andrea Dapretto. The Maestro Michelangelo Pistoletto together with Borut Vogelnik, one of five members of the IRWIN group, will represent the artists. Several prestigious representatives of the world of industry in the region will also intervene.
Here we find ourselves in a place where the dimension is of course local but also very vast. Trieste can be an exemplary place because we are in a city with a strong link to the past; we are in the vestiges of history. Therefore taking the situation and bringing it back to the life of today puts all the productive capabilities into play. I am speaking more from the point of view of perspective, from the perspective artist then come the realities that count. Here I see Illy with whom we have been working for decades with great profit in the relationship between art and productive meaning. The word productive is intended as a productivity that sees art as an indicator, a perspective beacon. However art, without being followed by those who work to move towards this perspective, remains empty, as such collaboration is very important. There is the aesthetics that art brings, but nowadays there is something else which is ethics. Ethics means knowing how to do things, even imagining how to do things artistically, as people used to say; that is doing the best possible.
Speaking of Trieste and focussing on the city, on the reality in which we live, I would like to ask the councillor if, based on the problems, on works or on current projects, the intervention of an artist as advisor would be appropriate. I’m thinking of a collaboration of a different vision and background that could give added value to the state of things.
The answer is yes, art can and should give added value to public works and we must remember that in Italy there is a law that states that a conspicuous part of the capital spent on public works must go towards the insertion of artworks within those public works. This however is not true for all types of public work but only for new buildings. Said law is a specific channel and was introduced in the 30s. In fact many buildings constructed in those years figure important works of art. It is a law that at times is disregarded and in Trieste in the past we have seen not the happiest examples of this fact.
One of the orientations of the administration is that of the recuperating disused spaces and of regenerating closed and abandoned buildings. To speak of the project we are currently working on: the recuperation of the Ex-Data Processing Department, which in reality it never was because the building was never used for that purpose. In this case the recuperation that we are working on is a project in a place in which to hold Applied Arts. The building should be approachable so that it allows those with difficulty to access the most coded and structured of museums. It should become a space with a great freedom of action. In this specific case we have involved a young artist, Davide?? and with him we have come to what could be called a convergent and divergent reasoning. The intervention should be low cost and together we opted for an intervention on the façade of the building that would become a usable palette, giving the possibility to young writers to make use of a public space. For this reason it must be said however that all the components must do their part, in the sense that there are various restrictions in terms of law and landscape and if art is to become a part of urban reality I think there must be a sort of pact between those involved, including businesses. In order to allow this type of action we must stop considering each little transformation an eternal and unmovable fact.
This I believe implicates, or rather doesn’t exclude, the intervention of what is private within the fabric of citizenship. At this point I hand the floor to Elisabetta Cividin who is here representing the Confederation of Industries in Trieste, president of the Gruppo Giovani and here as a businesswoman. Let us try to understand in the meantime if the city and the local businesses, above the young ones, can be ready for these interventions and open a dialogue with the Public Administration.
The Gruppo Giovani of the Confederation of Industries is characterized above all by youngsters belonging, like myself, to second- and third-generation industries. The innovation within our group has brought about the creation of a start up and the introduction of new ideas has pushed both the businesses and the youngsters to be more competitive. Regarding the relationship with the institutions, we youngsters need fixed and continuous collaboration, particularly in this historical moment of our region and our country. When we youngsters of the Confederation of Industries meet students of secondary schools and universities, we recommend that they gain experience abroad, but we also recommend that they return to their territory to bring their added value. We must moreover offer opportunities to those who have come to study in Trieste from abroad. We cannot forget that ours is a city of science and that it is therefore important to keep the scientists who have trained here and integrate them into productive life.
In your opinion, is it possible that through dialogue with artists new business models be reached or is this just a utopia – a subject that within the Confederation of Industries, above all on behalf of the young businessmen, can not yet be spoken about?
In the Confederation of Industries in Trieste the majority of businesses are still a little old-fashioned. As I said earlier, in the Gruppo Giovani some have had a start up and a collaboration with the new ideas brought by artists could be born. The traditional businessman might also have ideas, but ones that are only developed economically.
The collaboration with an artist would give the businessman more interior freedom and would give him greater sensibility. When our businesses in the Confederation of Industries have approached the world of art, they have done it in terms of sponsorship. Art has been used as a “means of communication” to be added to the trademark of the company in the hope of obtaining economic benefit from it.
I would like to discuss this subject with Flavio Flamio, long-time director of the Confederation of Industries in Gorizia. Having had dealings with businessmen and new developments within the companies in our territory, do you see examples of illuminated businesses that open up to art following the example of Illycaffé?
I believe that preliminarily certain methodological and practical considerations must be made. As director of the Confederation of Industries I do not only consider incumbent matters. I must be able to understand what will happen in three or five years time, how to help businesses grow, how to encourage new industries in my province. My task substantially is to invest in the future. This should be the watchword for linking art to business. When one talks of investing in art, the objection is “but art is difficult”, above all modern art; bringing it into business is a risk because art is revolutionary and upsets, it puts into discussion a series of factors. To this reasoning one can answer that what today is avant-garde, revolutionary, tomorrow will become classic. Let’s make an example: Beethoven, by then old and disheartened, was upset that nobody listened to him anymore, that no businessmen were willing to put him on the bill, and it was for this that he decided to do one last symphony, the Ninth. And he turned the rules on their head. While the classic symphony has four, at time five, movements, the Ninth has only three. In the third movement Beethoven composed for four soloists and a choir of a hundred and twenty people singing a poem by Schiller. Revolutionising the previously depository symphonic rules, he did something revolutionary that, ironically, would later become the anthem of Europe. I repeat, what today is avant-garde, revolutionary, tomorrow will become classic.
I wanted to make an observation of what has been said up to now in terms of business and regarding the question of difficulty of access to contemporary art. This is not just a problem with the visual arts; it is a more general problem. The problem is the contemporary, that is to say what we who live in this moment are immersed in. This is not a case of something which has already been filtered, historicised, where a selection has already been made. When one is immersed in an innovation that takes place contextually to our movements and to our lives, it becomes much more complex. I believe that the educators or the artists in this specific case can have the function of a guide, not just to discovering something external but something that is within us, or rather setting off that self-formation that, speaking for example of schools, does not regard solely the students but that regards above all the teachers. In the field of business I know of an exemplary case, that of the Casoli Foundation, an international company within the Elica group, which shows how it is possible to be innovative not only from the inside out but above all with regards to those working in the company. In their factory in Poland they called a Polish artist who worked with the workers – I mean with those who drive the forklifts to transport the goods – and he involved them in his artistic project, raising their motivation as workers.
I believe that there is a close link between all phases of life. I do not see any breaks between the phases of learning at school, later in the years of growth and finally in the world of business. We are immersed in a condition of constant learning. The work of art is the radical educational act par excellence.
Companies cannot do one-off actions regarding art. There must be continuity. I have worked for twenty years in artistic activities and that means that art has profoundly entered our company and territory. When I say that art permeates business I don’t mean just the businessman, managing director or the board. Our artistic activity touches all those working at Illycaffè. When there is a Biennale in Venice, we take those who work for us to see it so that they can understand what we are doing and can approach the language of art. Together with our artistic director Carlo Bach I met Michelangelo Pistoletto for the first time in 2000 at Cittadellarte. At the time there were only some large, completely empty spaces and there was only Michelangelo and Maria. Cittadellarte was still only a utopia. There was talk of an art of philosophy and of how businesses would have been able to contribute. That was the beginning. In 2002 Michelangelo created some cups for us, then the collaboration continued. There have been artists with grants given by us who went on to work at Cittadellarte. We set up prizes from which new artists emerged and from these artists, new products. This healthy concept of sponsorship has not only allowed the promotion of these youngsters in the world of art, but has also nourished the concept of sustainability between business and art.
We at Cittadellarte have subdivided our activity into various cells and one of these is dedicated to production, so we came up with this motto: “every product assumes social responsibility”, whether we want it to or not. There is as such this important phenomenon of assuming social responsibility and our discourse is born from art and the latter, as has rightly been said, is the producer of creativity therefore responsibility, thinking of the change that must come about in society both on a large scale and in local dimensions.
Here I would like to make something clear: sponsorship is not just paying money to have market visibility; this is a big mistake. There needs to be a continuity in the interventions, within the sponsorship there needs to be a thinking; there need to be strong contents that allow the project to be expanded on all levels. A company that produces coffee and that has an artistic director is not for everyone because the concept of what is beautiful or good, in terms of quality and ethics, should be present in every business activity, it should be present in the cups, it should be present in the espresso machine, it should be present when we go to eat at the cafeteria, where the food should be good. Therefore this concept of sustainability, of ethics must absolutely be present at all levels.
For 20 years we have had the Illyart Collection which means being able to bring a little piece of art to the lips of everyone because the coffee cup has entered the bar and the bar is a social place. In the social moment there are individuals, one comes into contact with the product in a truly sustainable way.
Companies must understand that they have a mission, that of living in a coherent way with the product. They also have a great obligation towards society, towards the territory, and art is the only language that through creativity is able to create a bridge between business and economy, between business and society. This is a case of a new way of thinking. When the Illycaffé projects travel the world, it means presenting that little piece of north-east Italy, it means making people understand how much creativity and willpower there is in a company – our company – and within the territory. Here in Trieste it is not always easy. There are connection and relationship problems like there are everywhere else in the world, but there is willpower. Yet when passion goes deep into the DNA of the company, everything becomes easier.
There are however undeniable practical problems: culture grows where there is culture. This may sound like tautology, but unfortunately that’s how it is. It is impossible to get to Jackson Pollock without having passed through the Renaissance, the Impressionists and the Expressionists. It is necessary for there to be a substratum that is ready to acknowledge things and in these times in Italy culture is hard to come by, as is the second element that is necessary for making culture; that is money. If we had not passed through the Church, the Empire, the Kingdom, the rich Flemish merchants, we would not have had culture. Today money too is missing. We need to go beyond a purely philosophical methodological approach, we need to find the resources to allow all this to grow and be implemented. Until now, the examples in the area have been sporadic, perhaps not organised probably because something that was able to systematically support them was missing.
I would like to talk about something that I know better than visual art; that is the movie industry. In cinema there is a very important funding system that allows productions to stay on their feet; this is external tax credit – a form of taxing contributions from companies to the creation of the cinematic product. This mechanism could, in my opinion, be transferred to visual art events. In this way there would no longer be the need to resort to sponsorship which, moreover, brings about tax problems. This external tax credit system constitutes a great incentive. My advice to you as such is to work on the infrastructure of the system, to find the way to introduce this norm that already exists in cinema into the entirety of artistic activities.
Thank you for the clarification. A very concrete business point of view of those close to companies has emerged.
I would like now to involve Borut Vogelnik representing the IRWIN group. This collective of five artists is a historical, very famous group that is a testimony to Slovenian contemporary art, but that, with exhibitions and works in collections in the most prestigious museums, is recognised on an international level.
Borut, you have worked from the off in a collective and you have carried out studies related to politics – the politics of Eastern Europe, the politics of your territory. You have carried out very important investigations, studies, archive works. Summing up, I could say that your art is an art that is somehow relational, that has always looked to society even if perhaps with a more political than economical or business viewpoint. Have you ever contemplated research based more on economics or business?
The relation between art and economy is of course of big interest for the situation of today’s Slovenia as well. Looking at history, it’s more than obvious that art was not only able to establish communication but that it was mainly used for this purpose. As far as I know this matter is part of the European Community agreement which includes precise regulations concerning art as an entity able to establish cultural bridges which has to be supported inside and between EU States.
We are neighbours and my question is if within your trajectory you are able to see art also as a trait d’union between different politics?
At the beginning of the 80’ IRWIN together with two other groups established a collective called NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst). In the frame of this collective we have been working continuously for nearly 30 years. Of course big changes have happened since then. It’s important perhaps to say why we decided to build up this collective. We did it because of the very particular cultural political circumstances in Slovenia. We didn’t trust the official cultural politics and the horizon they presented to us as – at the time – young artists of the former Yugoslavia. So we decided to establish our own Institution, to create our own identity and to deny any pretention towards official Institutions. That was our starting point. We self-organized ourselves, we invented our own ways to communicate with other artists from Yugoslavia. We also established relationships with artists and art institutions in other countries, east and west. So we had our own context, our own political system which was connected to economy as well, because the art production which we started for ourselves had a certain economic aspect. To understand what we did you have to consider the circumstances of the former Yugoslavia. The difference with the West was very big. No salaries, no market, no prices. At the beginning we were completely alone. You can follow the trajectory from the early 80s up to now. We didn’t change our position, what changed were the general cultural and economic circumstances and our relation to it. Of course we suffered economical difficulties most of the time, but we could remain working as a collective even if it was not easy. Some of our projects were completely unusual for a group of private persons, inconceivable in Western countries, touching fields normally reserved to public Institutions, to State Institutions, like emitting passports etc. We did it for very practical reasons, we had to communicate and to move because for artists from former Yugoslavia there was a total lack of opportunities. In our encounter with Western artists we found out that our art world was functioning in a completely different way. We created NSK as an answer to that. We established a strong collaboration with other artists in the East from the post-war generation to the younger one up to 2000, people sharing our whish of integrity. We created a network between artists and art critics from all the different Eastern countries, asking friends and friends of friends to take part in it. This was very useful for our art production given the total absence of art collections. We worked in a strong relationship with the territory following the path of 19th Century’s’ demand for autonomy in the field of cultural production.
It is interesting to understand how socio-political differences and distances condition being an artist in one country rather than in another.
Going back to our territory and to the Trieste Immagina exhibition, this morning a workshop with children took place centred on the project Terzo Paradiso (Third Paradise) by Michelangelo Pistoletto. In the workshop they worked on the symbol of the Third Paradise, the symbol of the infinity that, between the natural Paradise and the artificial one of our days, identifies a third way, a third Paradise indeed that includes the first two, balancing them and creating social awareness. As Pistoletto has stated, the artist becomes the sponsor of ideas. I would like however to underline that these ideas should not be instrumentalised. We are not talking about a use of the ideas of art for economic gains, we are promoting innovative and unusual ideas in the most varied contexts.
I would like to call upon Dr. Serena Mizan, Director of the Institute of Port Maritime Culture Foundation, who has been involved for a long time in projects bringing together science, technology and art. She has operated both in public and private sectors being also the head of a company.
I would like to comment on a few things that have been said up to now. We have heard about connections and the ability art has to create them. In my opinion, the most important thing to say is that industry needs art, whatever that may be, even the industries producing bolts, because industry needs creativity. And there is no creativity without art. We must nourish a connecting fabric of relationships that create creative richness, then the industry will know how to use this type of richness to suit its needs, making an economically based use of it. Industry needs art and must fund it so that a rich social and cultural context can exist in order to produce those ideas that will then enter into the circuit that from art leads to industry through innovation and discontinuity. This creates development. Art is a most powerful motor of development as it favours relationships. Art knows how to confront itself. I believe that we are mature enough in an industrial and business sense to say: “we fund creativity”. In Italy there is made in Italy which is the product of this creativity, but nowadays it is getting poorer. We must ask those who have the possibility of funding creativity however to not go and look for the specific relationship between the sponsored event and what it produces. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a cause and effect relationship. Industries can invest in the future if they invest in tout court creativity, if they give art freedom to move, to relate and to do its job, that is to make art. Then the industries will be able to find the way to regain the discontinuity that art has brought about. Change is in art. Change is innovation that stays alive if it is nourished by art. Of course money is short, but investing is important. At times it can be difficult to choose because it’s obvious that not everything can be funded. The more the resources diminish the more it is crucial to make the right choice. Often one thing must be sacrificed in order to allow another to grow.
If we are able today to regain that link between art, culture, craft and technology that has characterised the Italian culture of the past we will be able to have a more prosperous and functional industry.
Michelangelo, for the Venice Biennale of Architecture you created a sculpture entitled L’Italia Riciclata (Italy Recycled) which, apart from being an important piece tied to your philosophy and to your poetics, is also an example of consciousness, of collaboration with industry, a problem which is at the heart of our meetings.
My presence here is emblematic. I am an emblem of that which has been done with Cittadellarte and with RAM, a relationship which has lasted for a long time, putting forward common operations.
Maurizio Molini, you collaborated very actively in the genesis of Italia Riciclata. I would say that it was a rather DAC-style collaboration. Would you like to talk about it?
Let me start by saying that I have an architectural firm in Vicenza that deals in industry and business presentation. In parallel, twelve years ago I set up a project called Arte e Industria (Art and industry) that has the aim of putting the two entities together with the idea that there one may support the other. It was a solitary idea that has had fantastic results.
A few months ago Mario Pieroni from RAM radioartemobile gave me the chance of collaborating with the Maestro Pistoletto for this piece L’Italia riciclata, installed in the Giardino delle Vergini of the Italian Pavilion at the Venice International Architecture Biennale. The piece had a double value as it was not only the apogee of the Italian Pavilion curated by the architect Luca Zevi, but as it also in some way became the icon of the Biennale itself. The Pavilion this year was centred on the idea of Italian business and industry. The project of the Pavilion was based on the awareness of a fundamental study of our history and not just of economics; also the history of people, the history of work, the history of intelligence, of commitment, at times of suffering and of sacrifice. Business was intended as a place of excellence in terms of the study of the individual. The Pavilion was presented with a series of striking examples of entrepreneurs who, along with architects, have projected and created buildings of clear urban and social impact. Starting with Adriano Olivetti who in the post-war period sanctioned a series of fundamental interventions with his vast commitment.
Zevi’s idea was to place Pistoletto’s work of great value alongside this essentially architectural account. The Maestro had the intuition of creating a great template of Italy and I had the pleasure of seconding him with technical and creative assistance. A wooden template of notable dimensions – roughly 9m by 7.5m – was set very low on the ground of the garden. Upon this template the Maestro intervened assonantly – I would say even irreverently – towards the atmosphere of the Biennale as he had the idea of using leftover material of previous or current installations of the Biennale itself. We gathered various materials and, with the help of his assistants, we placed them on the surface, making them an integral part of the piece which was symbolically covered by a fishing net, clearly alluding to the global character of the work carried out in our country. The experience was very nice and, if I may add, also a lot of fun.
In this context aimed at the relationship between art and industry I would like to make it clear that the problem of industry in terms of realisation is not less relevant than that encountered by the artist when realising his work. The artist also has to face problems of budget, transport, material and finding these. The interesting thing is that the artist, beyond his imaginative abilities, is also researcher and is forced to confront himself with craft. In this sense the relationship – not insomuch institutional as personal – between art and industry is interesting.
I would like to go back to the theme of Trieste Immagina and talk about didactics, which is at the centre of the exhibition that is hosting us today. We have with us – off schedule – Maestro Dalisi, artist and designer, who has taken part in this morning’s workshop.
I agree with what has been said, that there needs to be a reciprocal relationship of ideas. Of course the artist can do things and close up within himself, but industry alone in a moment of crisis risks being blocked by its difficulties. Together on the other hand we can create a new situation. I would like to tell you about a personal experience of mine. At Benevento I was called by a very important industry to plan a giant nativity (14m high) in a square in the town centre. Four iron floors that we constructed in a month. While carrying out my project I came up with the idea of involving the people of the neighbourhood. I suggested that some sculptures could be made and displayed on the balconies of private homes along the road leading to this splendid square. The proposal was positively accepted and this then incentivised the work with the company. And so people participated in the project, adding their own contribution. This is an example of what can be done in a moment of crisis. Now we hear about the importance of creativity. We live in a magic moment even if there is no shortage of worries, but with the help of culture we can make it.
We have come to the tenth D/A/C meeting. It seems to me that today’s meeting has been particularly important not only because the presence of the artists, the companies and the Public Administration, but also thanks to the drawings made by the children that represent our future. This is a truly extraordinary thing because these drawings suggest a different and better future.
I would like to thank all the participants of today’s meeting and in particular the Maestro Pistoletto. The problems that have been debated seem to me to be fundamental for the development of our society, not only locally but nationally and internationally, because the future of populations is in the ability to produce with innovation, not only products but also ideas. I fully agree what Serena Mizzan said on the subject of discontinuity. I would also like to say that there exists an extraordinary analogy between the creative metaphor that comes from the work of the artist and from the basic study, the fundamental and absolutely not finalised study in which there is a creative moment that is common to artists and scientists. The true theme is, in my opinion, on one hand the link between art and creativity, and on the other hand realising the political necessity of redefining this theme. There is a need for a socio-political redefinition of the matter of creativity. We must realise that creativity is vital and is developed the moment in which there is significant and recognised support. It is not enough to have a cultural vision of creativity. There have to be structures supporting it.
It is a bit like what Alberto Munari wrote in his book Il sapere ritrovato (Knowledge Rediscovered) when he asked if microbes existed before Pasteur, coming to the conclusion that microbes started to have a bearing in the social context when Pasteur made his discoveries, because form that moment on there has been a socio-political redefinition of the presence of microbes with all that this means in terms of the creation of laboratories and the genesis of the power held today by medical centres, pharmaceutical companies and the national health system. For creativity to have all the characteristics referred to today, it is indispensable that there be a socio-political redefinition that allows the desired results to be obtained.
I began to comprehend the meaning of Rebirth Day as proposed by Pistoletto and I was happily struck by it. In fact I would like that on December 21st something could be done here in Trieste for it. We need to in order to give hope to the youngsters.