Slow Art

01 Aug 2007

The latest number of Slow (number 57) has just been published. Here is a sample article

What’s the difference between a work of art and a hamburger? None, you might say if you consider how often one and the other are ‘consumed’ nowadays.
Fast Food: food on the run with no identity, food you eat in a hurry without a care about where it comes from, who made it or what it actually contains. Fast Art: that’s how you might define the surfeit of exhibitions staged simply to clock up to visitors, to create an event, to be consumed in a hurry without worrying over much about what’s on display and what it will leave you. Hence the idea of a group of Turin art lovers to give life to Slow Art, a movement which, in tune with the principles of Slow Food, promotes a taste for slowness, for ‘deceleration’, for attentive and conscious ‘consumption’ of the aesthetic experience in the field of contemporary art.

Slow Art wasn’t born of nothing: it has its roots in the reflections and initiatives that flourished first in Turin, then in Milan and Catania, within the ambit of Arte Giovane (Young Art), a nonprofit association that came into being in 1994. That was a critical time for art in Turin. In the 70s the city had been the cradle of the Arte Povera movement of Mario Merz, Michele Pistoletto and other artists, which went on to enjoy international success. On the one hand the city saw its international artistic prestige progressively grow, on the other artistic trends and ferments not in tune with Arte Povera were gradually, and paradoxically, neglected.

The main casualty of this situation was a generation of young practitioners of the most traditional expressions of figurative art (painting, photography, sculpture), who brought in new ideas but were somehow gradually marginalized by a market intent on exploiting the long wave of Arte Povera. Yet there were gallery owners and new collectors in the city who were prepared to back the new talents, partly because they were convinced that the freshness of an artist’s debut works was a value in itself, partly because the inexorbitant price of such works allowed a broader section of the public to start collecting.

It was thus that 30 or so contemporary art lovers, mostly young professionals in their forties, set up Arte Giovane.
The project was presented at Turin’s Galleria d’Arte Moderna in May 1995, winning the consensus of over 130 members, gallery owners, critics, curators, collectors and, obviously, artists of under 35. In 2002 the experience spread to Milan and in the first months of this year to Catania. The association showcases young artists, promoting them among the public and encouraging local bodies, museums and institutions to bear them in mind in their public collection acquisition policies.

Over the last decade, the association has worked in two directions, organizing meetings, debates and events to increase its members’ awareness of what’s new in the art field, and staging initiatives to promote and raise the profile of young artists. First, an award, the Premio Artegiovane, was instituted with the backing of a small group of sponsors including the Turin Chamber of Commerce and the CRT Foundation. More than just another art prize, it offers young artists a tangible opportunity to reach the general public insofar as Arte Giovane encourages local bodies and institutions to display the winning works for three months in symbolic places in the city, such as the University, the Teatro Regio opera house, the Town Hall and the Public Registry Office. In the years ahead, the works will be exhibited permanently ay number 4 tram stops and the roundabouts along the roads that lead in to the city center.

Another initiative is the interdisciplinary event, now in its eighth year edition, which, held over a few nights, features video screenings, dance and readings by contemporary poets. Video is a technique that has caught on among young artists in recent years, allowing them as it does to mix and match different languages, such as music and animated drawings.

In all its initiatives, Arte Giovane tries to combine knowledge, fruition and enjoyment. It’s our belief that art is serious but shouldn’t be taken too seriously and, above all, that it should be consumed without ignoring the pleasure factor. This is precisely why Arte Giovane has decided to launch the Slow Art Manifesto.

Rocco Moliterni, a journalist, writes for La Stampa of Turin, specializing in art, travel and gastronomy.

English adaptation by Ronnie Richards

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