We went on a discovery tour of F’Art, a space to promote contemporary visual arts that opened its doors a little over a year ago in L’Aquila with an exhibition programme that embraces different languages and generations with a focus on the textile medium and artists active in the international fibre art scene.
A space in the historic centre of L’Aquila – a city in rapid development and in full ferment after the earthquake that struck it in 2009 – dedicated to contemporary art: how and why was this adventure born?
It was born in the wake of a motivation that was initially emotional but also rooted in the desire to offer an answer to a common need in an area where survival first, reconstruction later, has highlighted the need to come together during a forced and radical change that has caused deep voids. Filling the voids through the re-construction of a network of contacts and relations set up around a common interest: contemporary visual art as it has always been practised, cultivated, researched and considered as a space for action with immense cultural and social opportunities. A space located in an alley in the historic centre where there are still construction sites, cranes, and workers at work, daily rescuing pieces of urban wounds from oblivion and giving them new life. Visible is the widespread care and energy that restores an important part of what has been, tangible the ferment for what could be. In this present, at times confused, chaotic and disharmonious, there is no lack of positive signs. The city, fertile ground where every seed could germinate, has recovered its historical aptitude for cultural attention. Not only because of the pre-existing institutions or the better-known ones that have entered with great logistical and economic availability, but above all because of a new and widespread and varied proposal of micro-realities operating in the most diverse cultural and receptive spheres. F’ART is a challenge already in its name. F stands for doing. “Doing’ includes, among its synonyms, acting, creating, producing, giving life, forming, practising… The apostrophe after the F is a punctuation mark that underlines the importance of the word Art. But, for English-speakers, the pronunciation, obviously without an apostrophe, restores the meaning of the noun ‘fart’, the noisy emission of intestinal gas, a usual human practice, very useful, by the way, to make room around. The assonance was not initially contemplated, but was greeted with irony and smugness by those whose primary objective is to make room, among a crowded, indigestible and unpleasant world of practitioners, for those who really have something to communicate. F’ Art is a ‘minimal space’, an apt definition from a curator friend, where care is practised. Care for those who make art with coherence, research, seriousness, innovation.
About a year and a half after opening, what is the balance of the exhibition activity?
The time that has elapsed is very short to draw any balance sheet, but there are clear signs that confirm that the initial intuition, that of opening a space for sharing and dialectical confrontation, was right, timely and necessary. F’ART has already proposed various paths, promoting meetings between curators, artists and curators, innovating the type of presences with current visual languages, respecting a circular communication that always welcomes the competent or occasional user as an equal element in the communication process. F’ART pays attention to the usability of the visual artistic message, offering the observer the role of active receptor, listening and receiving dialectical instances, acting as a medium between the issuer and the receiver in order to promote a critical exchange that is the guarantor of a full artistic fruition. If it is true, as it is, that a work of art, if it is such, needs no explanation, it is equally true that erecting walls, implementing distancing, placing oneself above or beyond common vicissitudes has for decades kept the enjoyment of visual art away from most people. But paths of participatory art, performance art and relational art have tried to fill this void, gaining ever greater interest, testifying to how all art is salvific and useful. In a minimal space, in a city that is not very big, that has experienced an enormous tragedy and is now being reborn, Art is the glue and generator of emotions, suggestions, feelings, meaning.
F’Art’s proposal so far has been very plural: young emerging artists alternating with others established on the national and international scene from very different generations, backgrounds and research. What are the criteria you use to select the exhibitions in the programme?
F’Art is not a gallery that needs to promote itself. It is an independent space that promotes expressive diversity, a daily place of research for the artist who lives there. F’Art is interested in dissemination, the difference being that ‘disseminating’ is ‘transmitting’ with pleasure. The pleasure we get from visual experiences is also nourished by an agonistic gesture, at once ambitious and humble, launched towards knowledge… what is the use of art and the knowledge of its history? A great deal, if it manages to place non-knowledge at the centre of its problematic and to make of this problematic the anticipation, the opening of a new knowledge, of a new form of knowledge and perhaps of action. (G. Didi-Huberman, Devant le Temps, cit.,pp.155,222) . Space is the place and time of a transforming exchange to fill the gaps by narrating them, returning a fragment of contemporaneity that makes us participants in a becoming. F’Art welcomes projects that have an explicit communicative value in which the artistic research, consistent with a full-bodied and innovative expressive language, is the tangible fruit of a path of exchange between the artist, the curator and the user. Figures that communicate concretely, offering engaging stimuli. This is why the programming is not marked by rigid calendars but is organised on the basis of the opportunities offered by an increasing number of operators.
Among the projects you have presented, there has been no lack of attention to the languages of textiles and fibre art. What has been the response of the public and insiders?
Among the contemporary proposals, fibre art has in itself the value of a broad perspective, known for its origins and its evolution over time, it has acquired a multiplicity of expression unquestionably superimposed on the fragility and concrete difficulty of sustaining a relational and emotional solidity overwhelmed by an accelerated and fibrillating evolutionary process. The linguistic richness places it at the centre of a critical but vital dialectic because it restores an arrhythmic dynamism, anticipating the infinite mutations that overtake us and this, all of this, comes simply. Moreover, the focus on a variegated proposal of textile languages has allowed most people to approach and open themselves up to further reflections on the changes taking place regarding the very usability of contemporary works of art.
Starting in the summer of 2023, F’Art has promoted – also in collaboration with institutions – a series of events around the city. How was this experience? And is it the beginning of a further commitment of F’Art in the territory?
From the planning to the implementation of the wide-ranging, concrete and emotionally interwoven path, the objectives and motivations that were the driving force behind the realisation of an event that traversed the city’s historic centre for about a month were always very present. To spread and thus transmit, through art, the priority of re-finding an inner and subjective time in a space acted and enjoyed collectively. A time to listen and hear oneself, to see and see oneself. A time that has seen, in a crescendo of emotions, the consolidation of a network of participatory exchanges between operators in the sector, private individuals and institutions, and a spontaneous, continuous and receptive fruition of people who have restored value to the event. LUCO, an exhibition of international contemporary art curated by Barbara Pavan, from the Latin lucus… among the Romans it was identified by extension with the Sacred Wood. The search for and arrival at a hypothetical contemporary lucus, a non-place that alludes to a space, a time – real or metaphorical – or a condition of being and experiencing (cit. Barbara Pavan) was the inspiration for this exhibition, which took place in three evocative venues inside historical buildings – the courtyard of Palazzo Lucentini Bonanni in Piazza Regina Margherita 7, the Galleria Italia in Corso Vittorio Emanuele 79 and the F’ART exhibition space in Via San Francesco Di Paola 13, which hosted the works and large installations, mainly of fibre art by Jacobo Alonso, Elizabeth Aro, Pietrina Atzori, Michela Cavagna, Cenzo Cocca, Carla Crosio, Barbara D’Antuono, Magdalena Fermina, Donatella Giagnacovo, Monica Giovinazzi, Anneke Klein, Clara Luiselli, Florencia Martinez, Miriam Medrez, Saba Najafi, Lucia Bubilda Nanni, Giulia Nelli, Federica Patera and Andrea Sbra Perego, Elena Redaelli, Beatrice Speranza, Giulia Spernazza, Elisabeth Tronhjem, Yukoh Tsukamoto.
Re-opening reconstructed places, dear to the memory of a community and restoring them through an experience of meaning, concretely showed how it is necessary to pursue lofty visions through a practice that, while nourished by ambitious perspectives, is implemented with rigour, the highest professionalism and respect for Art, those who practice it, those who disseminate it and those who enjoy it. For F’Art, the journey has just begun.
What are the projects for the future and how many of them will still involve fibre art?
In recent months, attention towards F’ Art has increased exponentially and new collaborations have arisen that not only allow us to grow, especially professionally, but also invite us to maintain an open and dialoguing perspective. Fibre art remains an important point of reference precisely because of its capacity for changeable dynamism, but there will be no lack, as is already the case, of testimonies from other languages (…pictorial, sculptural, performative, digital…) The constant that unites the choices for future sharing is the attention paid to those proposals coming from narrating souls, points of light, that open breaches towards new horizons. Points, orientation points for future constellations in a contemporary artistic reality that to many insiders appears to be dull, without knowing that what is in crisis is not art but what has been made of art in recent decades and that instead shines like a starry night in a child’s sky (cit. Livio Sossi)