Arts and Culture / Beyond Michelangelo
Arts and Culture / Beyond Michelangelo
Interview with Massimiliano Gioni, the 34 year old Italian curator, who has recently been promoted to Director of Special Exhibits at the New Museum,which just reopened after a few years of renotavation in its new location in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He divides his time between New York and Milan, where he is also the Director of the Fondazione Trussardi.
In spite of his young age, he is already internationally renowned for having curated many contemporary art shows around the word.
Among the others, he curated the forth edition of the Berlin Biennial,the “Zones”section in the fiftieth edition of the Venice Biennale in 2003, and “Unmonumental” the opening exhibit for the fancy new home of the New Museum in the Bowery.
Rumors has it in the art field that Massimiliano is also a charming trendsetter.
In our interview he tells us what are the likes and dislikes of being a curator:
“This profession allows you to be constantly in touch with the artists, to become their street companion. You become the ‘amplifier’ of the artists’ voices. That’s what I love about my job.”
How did you decide to become a curator of contemporary art exhibits?
“When I first started, I didn’t even know what a curator exactly was.
I knew I wanted to be an art critic or even more so an artist ‘accomplice’.
That’s the reason why I probably decided to become a curator, because it allows you to be constantly in touch with the artists, to become their street companion. You become the ‘amplifier’ of the artists’ voices. That’s what I love about my job. I’m not even sure if I would define it as a profession…it’s more like a way of being constantly in touch with the Arts.”
Why did you move to New York City?
“New York is a peculiar city, always open to diversity, where contemporary art has conquered a crucial place and a visibility that are very hard to find in other places around the word.
Italy on the contrary is stuck in its glorious past of ancient art. Not much is happening in the contemporary art scene over there.
For example in Milan at the Fondazione Trussardi we are constantly looking for new spaces where we can show contemporary art pieces: abandoned warehouses, squares, ancient palaces; it’s a way of placing the entire city at the artist’s disposal.
In New York the New Museum is the only Museum entirely dedicated to contemporary art, where new trends are being experimented and all of that at a rapid pace and a reactivity that is not usual in the traditional Museums.We don’t want to be like the big Uptown temples of Art, but rather we are like an antenna that picks up the signals of the City, amplifying them for our audience”.
What criteria do you use to pick the artists for your shows?
“Do I really have to answer to this question? It’s a little bit like when you pick a lover or a girlfriend: you don’t really have specific criteria, each time there are different reasons…like what makes you work with one artist rather than an other.
Which internationally recognized Italian artists do you deem worthy enough to display their work worldwide?
“ Some of them are already well known and famous in Italy and abroad. I’m thinking about Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan or Rudolf Stingel, who recentely had a solo show at the Whitney Museum in New York.
Among the young ones Francesco Vezzoli is definitely one of the biggest name emerged over the last years. There are many others, very talented…from Roberto Cuoghi to Paola Pivi, PatrickTuttofuoco, Diego Perrone, Pietro Roccasalva, Micol Assael, Adrian Paci. Some of them are based in the New York City like Ra Di Martino or Marco Boggio Sella.”
What’s the typical day in the life of of Massimiliano Gioni like? Do you have any time left to dedocate to your private life, given that you are always on the move?
“Actually is kind of always the same. I wake up at around 7 am and I am glued to my computer to work with my office in Milan, until around 10, when I get ready to work in my other office in New York…at the New Musuem.”
How would you describe your role? What does it mean to be, at your young age
already “Director of Special Exhibitions” at New Museum in New York and also “Art Director”at the Nicola Trussardi Foundation in Milan?
“There are many ways one can describe the role of a curator. The most boring ones are the burocratic aspects of my job, when you have to meet the deadlines, work with the budgtes and keep everything under control in a Museum. Of course all of those aspects play a very important role in my job, because efficiency and precision are always required.
But what I love the most about my job is being in direct contact with the artists and constantly looking for new sources, opportunities and ideas for some original projects…so that the artists are challenged to create something that they have never created before.
Each time there is a new challenge with every new artist. That is very exiting for me!”
(Edited by Giulia Giannaccini)