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Inside the Roman Art Scene with Where's Art?

Inside the Roman Art Scene with Where's Art?
Roma Publications 1998 –2014, Fondazione Giuliani, 2014, photo credit: Giorgio Benni.

Carmen Stolfi talks to Myrto Katsimicha about contemporary art in Rome and her latest project Where’s Art, an invitation to explore the most out of Rome’s contemporary art scene.


MK: Whenever someone refers to Rome I keep thinking the title of Paolo Sorrentino’s latest movie “La Grande Bellezza”, a place of eternal beauty. At the same time there is a nostalgic and melancholic sense in this characterization. How would you describe the city and the scene of contemporary art in Rome in particular?


CS: Although institutions do not properly and enthusiastically support contemporary art, young (and I mean it in terms of age, not career) artists, curators and professionals in the arts work hard to develop their initiatives anyway: new galleries being opened, independent editorial and curatorial projects being developed. Besides, I found very inspiring the way artists still look at Rome as a fantastic source of inspiration for their work, and foreign academies do a great job by introducing ‘fresh air’ in town.



Gabriella Ciancimino, Liberty Flowers 2 (project Plants & Plans), 2014/2015, 70 cm x 50 cm x 3 cm.



MK: After your studies in Italy you continued your curatorial practice abroad in art institutions including among others the ISCP in New York and the Magasin in Grenoble. Why did you decide to return and work within the Roman contemporary art scene despite the difficult economic and political situation in Italy?


CS: It’s actually just a physical return to my country; it doesn’t really matter where I am at the moment as I am currently working with people in Hong Kong, Dubai, New Delhi, Berlin, London, and Athens.



Jessica Warboys | A painting cycle, installation view at Nomas Foundation, 2012, photo credit: Giuliano Pastori.



MK: ‘Where’s Art’ followed the urge of the digital age and took the form of a digital art map that serves as an everyday guide to the Roman contemporary art scene. Tell us a bit more about this project.


CS: Where’s Art also followed the specific urge to show that Rome is a city whose culture does not only rely on the ancient heritage.


When abroad, I have often found myself talking about contemporary art from the city, and a very few people are conscious about what Rome has to offer in terms of galleries, foundations, artists, residency programs. I want foreign people to be aware of this and Where’s Art has the first, perhaps ambitious, objective to bring Rome internationally.


In addition, I wanted Where’s Art to foster some sort of ‘exchange’ by sharing my curiosity to explore artistic researches worldwide that are little-known in Rome/ Italy.


Artists involved so far are from Maghreb, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, and there is more yet to come! It will be a journey throughout contemporary art from diverse regions around the world. While The Cabinet section follows a more subjective research and interest, The Pool invites curators and professionals in the arts to introduce what they truly believe most relevant in their cultural and geographical context.



Hayv Kahraman, Dual, 2012, oil on panel, 50 cm x 100 cm.



MK: How did you come up with ‘Where’s Art’? Did you identify a lack of interest and infrastructure concerning the Roman contemporary art scene?


CS: I rather identified a lack of knowledge about what happens in the city. Basically, I myself was not very happy with having no website gathering only contemporary art exhibitions and events opening in Rome; and wanted to explore more in terms of different topics investigated and researches conducted by little-known artists based in Rome and abroad.



MK: For a traveller and art lover who visits Rome for the first time which route would you recommend to make the most out of the city’s contemporary art scene?


CS: Well, the fulcrum of the city’s contemporary art scene within ‘white cubes’ is still the busy and noisy historical center.


A route that combines different layers of history and architecture might start from the area around the Colosseum: one may stop by at the Roman premise of T293, of which artists I really like are Alberto Tadiello, Tris-Vonna Mitchell and Claire Fontaine, amongst others. From here, a very short walk brings one to Frutta, from which my pick is Jacopo Miliani and Alek O.


An amazing walk along Fori Imperiali leads to Piazza Venezia from where one can keep on visiting galleries located around Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, or head to Fondazione Memmo that has recently started an interesting programme of exhibitions involving such names as Shannon Ebner and Sterling Ruby.


If one’s up for a gallery tour then a stop is needed at the beautifully located Galleria Lorcan O’Neill - focused on British artists - and Galleria Unosunove. Continuing the route to Piazza Navona, one can pop into Federica Schiavo Gallery and Monitor. The first works with amazing artists such as Salvatore Arancio, Pascal Hachem and Ariel Orozco, just to mention a few; whereas the second one has featured artists such as Antonio Rovaldi and  Tomaso De Luca.



Clara Broermann, Obenauf, installation View, 2015, photo credit: Giorgio Benni, courtesy of Federica Schiavo Gallery, Rome.



MK: Is there a specific area within the city where the art scene thrives at the moment?

CS: Within foreign academies.



MK: Which are your favourite spaces for contemporary art in Rome

CS: Fondazione Giuliani, Nomas Foundation and Federica Schiavo Gallery.



MK: 3 young Italian artists to watch.

CS: If young refers to the age, then Marco Basta, Ludovica Gioscia and Daniele Sambo.



Michael Dean, Our Daily Permanence, installation view at Nomas Foundation, Rome, 2010, photo credit: Altrospazio, courtesy of Supportico Lopez, Berlin.

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