We talked with Francesco Stocchi, curator of the Milanese exhibition called Imaginarii. We discussed topics about the experience in relation to the research of space and the inauguration of the artistic project of the Carriero Foundation. Then, we had a conversation about the duty of curators and the different paths that they can choose.
Imaginarii is an exhibition that opens the original project of the private Carriero Foundation, located in the heart of Milan (Italy). The Parravicini Palace, which conserves the peculiar intimacy of some private buildings from the 15th century that still exist in Milan, evokes an unpredicted dialogue between these artists from the 20th century: Gianni Colombo (1937-1993), Giorgio Griffa (1936), and Davide Balula (1978). Even though they belong to a different generation and create distinct art of poetry, they are able to intertwine their “languages” from a common reflection of the spatial nature, which perfectly fits into the peculiarity of the place that host their works. Today is a place where the old and the contemporary are perfectly intertwined. One example of this can be the minimalist rooms that have coffered ceiling. In fact, the original main character of Imaginarii is the place itself: the Parravicini Palace is something concrete and, as a concept, is a powerful and unifying creative approach.
This is how we find the perfect timing to have a conversation with the curator of Imaginarii, Francesco Stocchi. He was born in 1975. He has been a curator since 2012 in the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. We covered topics such as the following: the exhibition, the complex work of curators, characteristic dynamics of this job in private foundations in relation to the reality of museums, and, in general, the objectives of a curatorial work (of exhibitions too).
Francesco, first of all, why the title Imaginarii?
It’s Latin. Somehow, I wanted to choose a Latin title in order to grant universal aspect to the exhibition. In fact, even though is almost untranslatable, it connects us with a sensation of plurality. I’d say a plurality of expressions… As a matter of fact, Imaginarii presents three artists, through a process that is more dissociative than associative, who find a reason to live together with their distinct ways to perceive the space, even though they have apparent differences. The space is what put them together.
…and you surely want to make the first premise.
The three artists can be comprehended according to a minimalist idea, though they are not exactly minimalists. An idea that proposed the rupture with the traditional conception of the work of art. Somehow, they are the children of this revolution. However, it’s really important to understand that Imaginarii is not about putting bets on a historical work; is about the thought of how the perception of space has evolved today. In other words, the idea is to show the works through contemporary eyes.
You mentioned the concept of “space”. I suppose that Imaginarii is about how these three artists study space.
Let’s see. Colombo, Griffa, and Balula have completely different ways to understand the space. The exhibition is precisely about these diversities because is trying to reach interpretation. The idea is to teach that “here” and “now”. It is literally a contemporary meaning. Indeed, if we put a deceased artist like Colombo, an aged artist like Griffa, and finally a very young man like Balula together… the intention is not about emphasizing a generational rupture, is other than supposed: to investigate how these three moments can be seen together today. For instance, Colombo worked with phantasmagoric spaces and he did this before the digital era. This revolutionized the relation time-space. All of these spaces are presented “today”. It’s about three people who can speak the same language, though they have different logics. It is a dialogue of three.
But, what are exactly the creative peculiarities of these three?
Colombo’s work is about building unique ambiences, in a plastic dialogue between sculpture and architecture. Griffa, far from what he is used to, develops an idea of painting very traditional, so Italian, and Ptolemaic. Nonetheless, this fills the studio and its surroundings with color, shapes, and time. Finally, specialty involves an evolving nature according to Balula. He starts with objects, habits, cultures, attitudes, and events that occur in front of his eyes. He begins with the context, both the exhibition and his life. He lives according to reactions and he takes part of the space as a place of reaction.
In this research, what is the role of the Parravicini Palace and where does Imaginarii take place?
This place is not just a container. We had to identify the “problem” of the space in order to find solutions. In fact, the space is more than the main character!
I had to deal with a “new” place, for instance. It’s a place that still needs a definition, architecturally speaking. This is for two reasons. Firstly, is a former private dwelling that turned into an office and then into a public space. Secondly, there was a stratification that was more historical. This increased the problem; this place consists in two palaces: one from the 15th century and the other from the 17th century, and both are connected. At that time, a multiple identity existed in a historical place, though it was also contemporaneous. Specifically, the problem was the space itself: it wasn’t historical, nor contemporaneous. So, I decided to start only with this aspect and turn it into the subject of the exhibition. So, in general, that is how the first idea of Imaginarii emerged.
But, in most of the cases, there are no site-specific artworks here.
Sure. We have to clarify something important: the exhibition doesn’t come from the specificity of the works. In other words: on the second part there are no site-specific artworks. However, the place is so special, so rewarding, that the job of a curator is to turn every work into a new type of site-specific artwork. This is the reason why the setting up and the time for exhibition grant Imaginarii certain specificity.
Let’s talk about that specificity because it concerns the reception of the viewer, in relation to the size of the foundation and, for instance, of a public museum.
Here, the visitor can ring the doorbell, while museums have a hall, a reception, and a collection. I don’t think there are two situations more different than that. Perhaps, in the case of Imaginarii and the Carriero Foundation, the similarity can be found in the previous and upcoming events –events of extreme quality (time, mediums, ideas, investment, and artists) –that reflect the work of the museum. Nonetheless, from the point of view of the visitor, I think the approaches are not that different.