On October 10th ITALIANISM, a 24-hour creative conference, is going to be held in the former military station Guido Reni in Rome, as a meeting point for the emerging Italian visual scenario. within the sixth edition of the Outdoor Festival. Italianism, a project born of the blog www.saperevedere.it, is laying the foundations for a new modern movement meant to track, both nationally and abroad, young, contemporary productions that stand out for originality and quality. We have interviewed Renato Fontana, artistic director and creator of Italianism, who hosted us at the event location, letting us have a sneak peek at some of the areas and events created.
What is Italianism and how did it come to life?
Italianism, now in its first edition, is a creative conference. It is a meeting, exchange and networking point born thanks to the contribution of hundreds of artists and professionals. We will be discussing the contemporary visual culture made by Italians, in a series of sections, the first one being speech/lecture, featuring a dozen of personalities from different fields, such as the digital, communication, art direction, graphic, photography, illustration, 3D. Ten are Italian and two foreign. We will host a tribute of “Heroes”, an exhibit of black and white portraits of celebrities from the world of music, art and politics, curated by photographer Mattia Zoppellaro, who often travels between Italy and London. There are going to be over fifty Italian illustrators, top of the range of illustration in our Country, dedicating an original 50X50 piece. Many have been awarded internationally, a clear sign of this moment of enthusiasm for Italian illustration. Some fifteen new artisans are going to be involved in the Analogic 2.0 section, where new techniques will fuse with traditional ones, highlighting the great potential of our Country’s creativity. From paper to felt, from the printing press to old school screen printing, from Japanese xylography to pinhole photography. And just like at the dawn of photography, we will have wet collodion photography. All this to say that Italian “manual skills” are still fighting hard to stay alive within us. Interestingly, the campaign of this event comes from a logo of the Milan duo “La Tigre”, a dynamic logo in the form of a column, looking like an uppercase “I”. The event will culprit in a night filled with the music of djs and concerts.
Speaking of art, what is the biggest challenge?
Firstly I really don’t identify as an art expert, I work in the communication field. I feel there aren’t a whole lot of limitations as of right now, thanks to social networks and personal connections. I do think, though, that young people need to feel more aware of their artistic abilities. Over the past years, Italy has been permeated with a sense of depression, mediocrity, dullness, not for creativity, but for communication. We ought to dare more, believe in our means and abilities. Dreams often don’t come true in Italy, whereas abroad you can often reach your dreams with half the effort. Then in the background, we can’t deny, is a system that could and should offer more and better support.
What do you think about our artists always seeking popularity abroad, especially in the US?
It’s both interesting and sad. There is no denying that if I was in these young artists’ shoes, I would probably try and find recognition elsewhere. For my professional experience, though, I realize that we should try to find balance between Italians’ urge to find success somewhere else, and the desire of those who already have found it and want to go back to their roots, their colors, the way of working and living in their own Country. Italianism comes about for this very wish, to create a network or crossroads between who’s making their effort here and who is abroad, to exchange advice and create connections. That’s why we can no longer talk about “made in Italy” given these past years’ evolution. It’s more about the creative, artistic and professional DNA of Italians, so I would turn the concept into “Made by Italians”.
You were saying that artists are not chosen based on their prestige, what did you mean by that?
The selection of participants was based on my experience. Prestige and reputation or abilities are concepts that don’t always coincide with each other. Then you have networks you can refer to. To give you an idea, all the field of illustration depends on the Illustri association, founded in 2014, counting several brilliant Italian illustrators. Plus through the Outdoor festival, which selects and promotes talented artists, I get a good glance at the street and urban artists out there. I believe that events such as this have to promote those young people who struggle to make their way through. Just like in the music field, it’s not all about mainstream music, but about the alternative genres as well to make it interesting. In this very moment in Italian creativity I feel there is still a huge potential not yet expressed.
How’s Italian creativity felt abroad and what can we do to boost it?
My view on it is that we now have all we need to be competitive abroad. Yet what pushed me to organize this event is that I can’t figure out why in the 60’s Italian graphic was a stimulus for the whole world, in the 70’s and 80’s we were leaders in design and fashion, the for about 20 years nothing at all, sweeping away all of Italy’s competitive value on the market, except for the wine and food industry. The creativity is still there, but we need better communication to make it more desirable. Education and formation, now not strong enough, should speed up the process.
What are the limitations of sustaining art through the public and what can the private sector do to promote events like this one?
I think both can help at the same time. In our case a partnership with Regione Lazio has been a great help. Entrepreneurial sensibility has increased within companies and multinationals, which is important. I believe in a joint system for the common good. Giving credit to a new generation of entrepreneurs so as to combine contemporary language with the making of enticing and sustainable products available to all. I really hope for a brave and courageous vision in this field, too.
I wish for transparency, that is, without criticizing the system at all costs, only if you are open about the good and the bad, the flaws and challenges will we get a vision of the improvements needed to become more and more competitive with the rest of the world.© All rights reserved