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Artissima Unplugged, Turin. The new incarnations of contemporary art

With more than a hundred thirty participant galleries, the fair has gone ‘acoustic’ and reinvented itself by combining exhibitions with digital projects

In his book The $12 million Stuffed Shark, Don Thomson talks about the rise of the art fair during the twentieth century. Being national or international, located in metropoles or towns, art fairs have come to play a key role in the global art market and, as could be expected, have been the first to tackle the consequences of the pandemic, having to shift from opening night parties to the flat screen of laptops. This applies to Artissima as well. 

Since its foundation in Turin in 1994, Artissima has built itself a reputation as one of Italy’s leading contemporary art fairs, excelling for the variety of participating galleries, as well as for its focus on experimentation and research. Despite the efforts to organise an event in accordance with the Covid regulations, global uncertainty has convinced the fair to go ‘unplugged’ and reinvent itself by combining exhibitions with digital projects. Artissima 2020 will be an acoustic fair, where the works will be the instruments and the galleries the voice.  «In order to make the most of the efforts of the last few months, we have imagined a new incarnation of an art fair» explains Ilaria Bonacossa, Director of the fair since 2017.

More than one hundred and thirty galleries, of which about forty percent is international,  have so far confirmed their participation in the fair. Ninety of them will contribute to the Artissima exhibition by selecting a corpus of works — originally destined to the stands —  to be displayed in three exhibitions, curated by Bonacossa, across the three venues of the Fondazione Torino Musei. From November 7th, 2020 through January 9th, 2021, the Main Section at GAM (Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea) will be reserved to renowned galleries such as Galleria Continua, Raffaella Cortese, Franco Noero, Mazzoleni, Massimo Minnini, and Vistamare.

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DESIRE/ CENSORSHIP WAS THE THEME OF THE 26TH EDITION OF ARTISSIMA, 2019 EXHIBITION

New Entries, staged at Palazzo Madama — Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, will present emerging galleries that have joined Artissima this year for the first time, including L’étrangère, Lehmann + Silva, Fabienne Levy, Alice Folker, and Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix. The rooms of MAO (Museo d’Arte Orientale) will provide space for single artists, and will host a dialogue between artists through Dialogue/Monologue. All three shows will share the theme of Frenetic Standstill, a binomial of words describing our present. As in last year’s collateral exhibitions Artissima Telephone and Abstract Sex, galleries will be able to exhibit works for sale. 

Unlike other fairs such as Basel and Frieze, Artissima will not count on virtual tours and augmented reality technology, as according to Bonacossa they cannot be considered an alternative to the physical experience. «Digital fairs have replaced the usual ‘fair fatigue’ with a ‘viewing room fatigue» she affirmed during the press preview. Artissima XYZ will be the fair’s own contribution to the world of online fairs. 

Its three curatorial sections — Present Future, curated by Ilaria Gianni and Fernanda Brenner, Back to the Future, curated by Lorenzo Giusti and Mouna Mekouar, and Drawings, curated by Letizia Ragaglia and Bettina Steinbrügge – will move online, transformed into a digital experience that engages visitors. Photographs, archival and sound material, videos, interviews and podcasts will support the fruition of artworks by investigating them from all perspectives — as if they were located on the three cartesian axes — through the gaze of gallerists, artists and curators. 

Present Future, dedicated to artists under the age of forty, «gives voice to artists who conceive art as an instrument to explore their role as citizens and social actors. […] Each work becomes an act of resistance and, as a breath, an act of survival» explain the two curators of the section. Giusti and Brenner underline the intent of Back to the Future — the section dedicated to monographic projects on masters of the twentieth century until now underestimated — to «preserve memories and actualize artistic languages». The two curators of Drawings have turned their section into a realm of femininity, selecting ten women artists of different ages and backgrounds to show how «in drawing, each artist finds her own  freedom  for experimentation». In addition to XYZ, Artissima will present a digital catalogue, which will allow collectors from all parts of the globe to navigate through the fair, browsing artists and artworks, while saving preferred contents. For the first time, galleries can decide whether to show the prices of their pieces.

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Artissima Unplugged
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GAM
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Turin
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