Real, inner and virtual spaces
The activities of Amici della Triennale restarted after the forced three-month stop with Triennale Estate, a summer edition that used the Triennale garden as an ideal setting to reconcile Milanese residents with open spaces after long months of confinement. The event “format” was a series of conversations, each with two contemporary artists from different generations, to discuss art and lockdown and how the pandemic has affected the creativity and art shows.
These topics were very close to our hearts. It was interesting to discuss, with the artists themselves, how the recent isolation has influenced creative processes and how the choices made may have led to new solutions that will also affect the way that audiences experience art. Each time, the starting point was to understand how the artists experienced space during quarantine – physical and virtual spaces, but above all their inner dimension. Starting with physical space, it was interesting to note that older artists have easily made their home the place where they work and create. Despite the forced isolation, this has brought little change in their artistic practice.
For younger artists, who are used to a clearer separation between family life and artistic practice in their studio, or in a place “other than home”, the lockdown has led to a more radical change. Andrea Sala told us that isolation led him to have a new perspective, forcing him to carve out more time to think before producing his work, and to abandon his well-organised working patterns and methods. Bringing artistic practice back to a domestic dimension has also changed the way that Patrick Tuttofuoco works. For him, the key to this change was his own proximity to materials and shortened distances.
"Arte e lockdown. Generazioni di artisti a confronto" with Emilio Isgrò and Andrea Sala, Thursday 18 June. Moderate: Elena Tettamanti, President of Amici della Triennale, Antonella Soldaini, curator and art historian. Video: Courtesy of the Amici della Triennale Association
One of the biggest changes in the creative process was caused by the difficulty in finding materials for art works, prompting artists to focus more on drawing, a recurring form of expression during lockdown. As for their inner experiences, forced confinement was a time to improve self-awareness for some, and a moment of profound crisis for others. This is linked to the loneliness and vulnerability that we all have experienced, to which artists can give more meaning and depth through their sensitivity.
For example, Emilio Isgrò stressed that loneliness is a part of an artist's own nature; indeed, he thinks that an artist should not be totally immersed in reality, but maintain a detached point of view to see it with a critical eye and then be able to tell his or her own vision. Paradoxically, lockdown heightened this ability and sensitivity, so he didn’t feel like he missed anything during confinement. According to Remo Salvadori, vulnerability is a permanent condition of the human being and he considers it essential for research and creativity. Being aware of it does not generate weakness, but strength. This experience has led artists to a greater awareness of their inner state and for some, like Liliana Moro, it wasan opportunity to reflect on future projects. She told us that she let time go by, so the silence allowed her to focus on the little sounds and movements of the city, two elements that are at the centre of one of her most recent sound installations.
"Arte e lockdown. Generazioni di artisti a confronto" with Remo Salvadori and Patrick Tuttofuoco, Thursday 25 June. Moderate: Elena Tettamanti, President of Amici della Triennale, Antonella Soldaini, curator and art historian. Video: Courtesy of the Amici della Triennale Association
This slower pace of life was not a limitation for Diego Perrone either; he told us that it was a time full of stimuli for him. As a visual artist, he was particularly struck by the views of deserted Italian cities, transformed into De Chirico's paintings, and would like to use them as an inspiration for his next creations.
As for the virtual space, all artists have received numerous requests from cultural institutions to take part in digital projects. However, it was mainly the younger ones who responded to these initiatives. Another consideration that emerged is that the contents posted on social media are limited to being “manifestations of existence”, as oftentimes there was no actual research behind them.
Speaking of exchanges between different generations of artists, Patrick Tuttofuoco was a pupil of Remo Salvadori and he told us how he was able to turn the physical environment of the classroom into a meeting place, not just a place for teaching and hierarchies. Even Alberto Garutti and Diego Perrone spoke about their initial relationship as teacher and pupil. Garutti said that he immediately understood that Perrone was a “very good artist” and the latter revealed how his teachings were a real act of generosity towards him. In fact, those lessons were a personal and emotional exchange.
During lockdown, many artists suffered from the lack of opportunities to share experiences and participate in debates. However, it emerged that the pandemic has allowed everyone to feel an active part of a community.
"Arte e lockdown. Generazioni di artisti a confronto" with Liliana Moro and Beatrice Marchi, Wednesday 9 September. Moderate: Elena Tettamanti, President of Amici della Triennale, Antonella Soldaini, curator and art historian. Video: Courtesy of the Amici della Triennale Association
The real challenge will be to create new ways to enjoy art, including on digital platforms, although the direct relationship with the work of art remains essential; all the artists agreed on that emotions arise from physical encounters. Emotional involvement also lies at the heart of Alberto Garutti's works. In his opinion, a work of art lives only when you make it public, when the viewer looks at it and interacts with it. The pandemic was widely seen as a further demonstration of the fragility of our planet and, as a result of forced confinement, there has been an increase in sensitivity and greater awareness of how important everyone's role is.
In practice, when conceiving her works, Beatrice Marchi tries to reduce their environmental impact, starting with her choice of materials and limiting her own movements. Interestingly, she mainly used to do live performances but, given the situation, she is now thinking of new forms of expression. Hopefully, our previous anthropocentric vision of the world will have even less reason to exist and there will be an increasing need to go back to recognising the vital role of nature.
"Arte e lockdown. Generazioni di artisti a confronto" with Alberto Garutti and Diego Perrone, Wednesday 16 September. Moderate: Elena Tettamanti, President of Amici della Triennale, Antonella Soldaini, curator and art historian. Video: Courtesy of the Amici della Triennale Association