Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

Frenetic Standstill: Artissima 2020

Torino’s annual art fair is Italy’s cultural catalyst

Artissima is the artiest. The very best of Italy’s and Europe’s contemporary art fairs, and for the past 27 years, Artissima is the cultural catalyst for Torino’s art scene. At its helm is Ilaria Bonacossa,  Artissima’s director-in-chief and who, since 2017, pioneered the evolution of Artissima.

Ilaria Bonacossa, Artissima’s director-in-chief, by Giorgio Perottino

Considered the serious collector’s fair, Artissima is a traditionally wrap-around weekend getaway and gateway to Italian artists, and international galleries and exhibitors. In its 27th edition, Artissima changes up the game by stretching the fair across weeks and months with Artissima Unplugged, an extended experience of on-site exhibitions as well as digital dedicated projects.

“This year, Artissima is trying out a mixed format where the digital platform is for all the galleries and is supported by an actual show across three museums of Fondazione Torino Musei- it’s like a super distillation of Artissima,” explains Bonacossa.

Palazzo Madama, Turin

2021’s site Specific and digital exhibitions

Frenetic Standstill examines the theme of acceleration in inertia and the necessary paradigm shift in art. In person, from November 7 to January 9, 2021, three onsite shows curated by Bonacossa are superimposed on three of Torino’s most powerful and historic collections.  The main section, Monologue/Dialogue, is held at GAM, Torino’s Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery.  Palazzo Madama, Italy’s former senate building now Ancient Art museum hosts  Artissima’s newer entries – “younger galleries that have been open for five years”, in the museum’s medieval court section, while MAO (Museum of Asian Art) showcases a smaller selection of work that dialogues with MAO’s collection.

Artissima’s core has always been the curated sections – Present Future (emerging talents, less than 40 years old), Back to the Future (historical talents) and Disegni (drawings). For the first time, Artissima is taking this digital, and eliminating preview days, with Artissima XYZ. Launching November 3 and lasting through December 9th, visitors go full immersion into the artists, curators and galleries of Artissima.  With a month to singularly discover 30 artists, Bonacossa considers Artissima XYZ as “human size.”

Matos – Zoo – Installation view
Curated by Filipa Oliveira
Courtesy Casa da Cerca, Almada and Madragoa, Lisbon

Full immersion in art and Piedmont

“Artissima XYZ is much more than a viewing room because it has interviews, video interviews, podcasts, historical material.  It’s really like a 360 degrees investigation in the artists, giving back the experience you would have if you visited the booth,” shares Bonacossa. In addition, all artworks are featured in Artissima’s ever-growing online catalogue.

In addition to the fair, Artissima is the part of the brain source behind Art Mapping Piemonte, a guide to Piemonte’s site specific art installations from the colli novaresi to the bassa langa – currently 77 (and growing) works of art plus great gastronomic finds. For more than two decades, Torino and now the Piemonte countryside has been building itself up as a destination for art lovers, thanks in part to its culinary treasures including wine, truffles and tajarin. 

Roberto Coda Zabetta, CNTR – Project for Mondodelvino, 2020.
Courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery Amsterdam.
Photo: Henrik Blomqvist

“In so many cases, art and wine are developing as a tandem of wineries that make art installations like the Ceretto family (the Sol LeWitt chapel). This idea of two elements living in the territory have been there for a bit so we decided to ask the region to continue Art Mapping.”

Torino and contemporary art

Torino itself has always been a city of art and experimentation, wrapped in 19th century bourgeois elegance. Sessantotto, the 1968 social movement which included student and workers revolts were ignited in the piazzas of the city.  Arte Povera was born and flourished here.  Writers, musicians, philosophers and contemporary artists continue to live here, and it’s that spirit of Torinese and Italian creativity and experimentation that underlines Artissima.

“Artissima has always been imbedded a format that is …“glocal”. There is something very specific about it being in Torino, in Italy. I’ve always said that it is the biggest of the small fairs and smallest of the big fairs. Covid has had some advantages, giving us the opportunity to revalue talents in proximity that maybe we had lost sight of.”

Contributed by Erica Firpo.

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