ArtVerona 2022 preview offered a closer, early look on a substantial part of young artists infiltrating a classic art fair.
With an open eye for details and the fringes of artistic expression, ArtVerona 2022 accompanied by the subtitle and hashtag #ItalianSystem exposed so much more than established artists presented by a classic gallery system. We dove into the most outstanding positions with a youngish, fresh appeal. Not all of them may be young, but all of them have in common: crossing the borders of the traditional.
We focus here on the unconventional, the weird and innovative seeping in through all types of media. Not all we enlist here may be created by young artists, important for that review is that is looks young, qualifies as “young or youngish” art in the eye of the beholder, which in our case, we consider young. Some of the comments overheard stated, that there is nothing new, nothing fresh to be found, but we gently disagree, you only have to develop an eye and a taste for it.
Consider Fausto Gilberti, born in Bescia in 1970 is in his early 50s, now represented by Wizard Gallery: as an accomplished painter, illustrator and author of children’s books, he is fresh in the fine art scene – and after working himself through the music industry, his series of drawings focusing on art history, the art scene and artist celebrities has just started.
Conceptual Art & Media Art
Alberto Tadiello with his audio / media art installations (see above) is younger – born in 1983 near Vicenza he more fits the picture of young art, although media art history goes way beyond Nam June Paik, who made it famous amongst others in the 60s (see e.g. Norman McLaren, Evelyn Lambart, Oskar Fischinger, Alexandre Alexeieff, Claire Parker, Len Lye or Mary Ellen Bute).
In a traditional Art fair with an heavy inclination towards National positions, media art is still rather an exception than the norm. Same goes for a linguistic approach in the tradition of Lawrence Weiner, who spearheaded conceptual art often taking the form of typographic texts, a form of word art. Josh Rowell (Kent, 1990) was an young example on site generating his artistic vision by focusing on the technological innovations that shape our contemporaneity and communication. He homes in on how our human interactions are mediated by platforms and social media, combining it with traditional handicraft like mosaics.
Gallery Marocco was exhibiting a position from Naples worth digging in and out – a young artist called Nicola Vincenzo Piscopo. Born in 1990, for some, his approach spanning art and philosophy may seem high brow, but actually the artworks he produces seem to be very grounded and almost archaic, cunningly digesting a big range of human artistic expression, distilled in precise, enigmatic pieces. He describes painting as not only being a tool that allows him to express thoughts, but it is also the elementary and fundamental condition for him to be able to process thought – that comes not across like an psychological, enigmatic Surrealist memory, but more a postmodern ritualistic collection of sacred tools and tableaus for a faith not yet in invented.
Rituals are also held in high regard by the Daniele Costa, featured by NEUTRO and Ginevra Petrozzi (born 1997) featured by Dutch ONOMATOPEE. Both separate bodies of work, and still similar in a reverence to movement, dance and creating an atmosphere with performative situations. Costa, who won the Lydia! award in 2021 investigates the boundary between the true and the false, the theater and performance. Her figure of Trapezia Stroppia or La Trape, drag queen (see e.g. sempionenews ), generates a 360-degree discourse on her personality: as a drag, as an artist, as a performer but also as a person and individual. It is not the mere description of the construction of a “character”, rather a journey into the borderline between drag performance and tutorial parody. The work revolves around the concept of drag but takes us inside the experience of different, oscillating characters always poised between expressive and performative impulses that turn outwards and the necessity to protect your vulnerability. At Arte Verona 2022 Daniele Costa’s work got featured by NEUTRO, a hybrid space in Reggio Emilia which invites contemporary artists and photographers to experiment freely in a “heterotopic” space ig: @spazioneutro
Ginevra Petrozzi on the other hand cannot be just limited to the label “digital esoterism” – as her performances are much more than postmodern divination and are reaching into techno-politics and subversive political rebellion, calling for the powers dormant in us. Her creations often serve as an healing act, exposing the cracks and wounds in our digitally mediated societies, bruises and pain which needs to get tended to. For ArtVerona she conducted a three days hybrid ritual she called “A Funeral for Digital Data”, binding flower wreaths for digital loss until she ran out of flowers. On display were a laptop and a phone under a funeral shroud and an interactive site where the visitors could type in their own experiences with data loss, or people lost to us, whose data we can only see, but not access anymore
The most provocative young position was definitely the loud institutional critique of Giulio Alvigini (Tortona, 1995), following the footsteps of Andrea Fraser and Marcel Broodthaers in undermining the commercial and exclusive rules which make up the art market and are imminent in art fairs. Featured by MAG, Magazzeno Art Gallery, he uses his instagram account (@makeitalianartgreatagain) like a weapon creating outrageous claims exposing the real system of control and power which drives the international art scenes today, where artists often feel exploited and helpless, competing becoming the next fad. His funny set “Cards against contemporary art Italia” seem both a protest and an ironic nod, both an accusation and a cry for attention. The collaboration with the platform bonobolabo.com yielded skateboards with changing AR content mediated through the AR App Aria, t-shirts and hostesses, all in a futile attempt to “make Italian art great again”. But somehow, together with the artists mentioned here, he might actually achieve that…
Other highlights were the joyful mirrors of Luxembourg artist Sali Muller (born in 1981), the installation L’occhio tagliato by an artist’s collective born from a workshop by the same name in 2016 and the unpretentious display of an peculiar magazine from Great Britain targeting the climate crisis. Boasting the resonating name “It’s Freezing in LA! – an independent magazine about climate change” in between science and activism and run by a non-profit company it had an Augmented Reality artwork on display. Except the occasional nod, the big topics of our times (energy crisis, war, inflation, surveillance capitalism etc.) seemed otherwise as absent in the fair as in Italian politics, somehow befitting the fair’s hashtag.
Last and least a rumour, without hard evidence: even though the vibrant and controversial NFT scene was not very prominent at all at ArtVerona 2022, one project could be said to have brought the spirit of the new market to the traditional crowd. Even though only there with a screen, the mysterious NFTower Gallery from Rome showcased the work of the artist duo Neurocinema inside the “Solo” track of the fair. Hearsay identifies them as Dino Esposito and Gennaro Bosone (Artribune), but neither artists nor gallery being listed in the Online catalogue of ArtVerona, and without any confirmation online or offline, the supposed innovative project displayed on video screen could be a hoax. It claims to have rendered a unique visual experience for the viewer, through letting brain waves alter the succession of video sequences with neurofeedback using electrodes, which would be indeed interesting.
General neurocinema projects are around since ~2011 but no digital traces or links online are weird for a solely digital product. A lot of other articles reviewing ArtVerona picked the story of neurocinema up, but neither a similar sounding project NFTower nor extensive research could pinpoint any clear provenience or reference, neither to the artists nor the gallery. Maybe a badly documented project or the #ItalianSystem is not ready for new approaches or the fleeting promises of the ever-changing digital realms, where fiction and reality are flowing together, just like in the “real“ world…