April 2017_by Michela Arfiero
Palazzo Chigi of Ariccia in Rome, will be the venue for GRANPALAZZO 2017 (May 27th and 28th), the exhibition-fair created three years ago to show artists of the latest generation. The project, conceived by Paola Capata, Delfo Durante, Ilaria Gianni and Federica Schiavo, takes place just outside the city of Rome, in the beautiful countryside of Lazio. The exhibition-fair will feature 27 galleries during two days of "slow art" where you can meet people and interact with the artists.
I've sent some questions to the curator, Ilaria Gianni:
Is Granpalazzo an exhibition or is it a fair, or simply a combination of both?
GRANPALAZZO is actually a combination of both. We invite galleries with a strong research approach and whose artists haven’t had extensive visibility in Rome, to present a small solo show. The artist selection is the result of a dialogue between the galleries and myself, thinking around the unusual and unique context in which the works will be shown. We usually attempt to create a dialogue with the identity of the Palazzo, with its history, even with the features of a specific room. All exhibited works are deeply through, as well as the path the audience is invited to take during its visit. At the same time, the gallerists are available to discuss the works in depth with whoever is interested in a very relaxed dimension. In this way GRANPALAZZO can be considered and exhibition-fair. All this takes place in the underestimated and unexplored beautiful and culturally rich countryside of Rome, which was so dear to many intellectuals during the Grand Tour epoch.
GRANPALAZZO wants to create the necessary conditions for an alternative and independent market; in this perspective what are the elements that unite the invited galleries?
All the participating galleries have understood the attitude that lays behind GRANPALAZZO. The idea of spending two days in an alternative environment to the usual art context, in a relaxed atmosphere where the quality of the proposals and the hard work behind the galleries’ profiles emerges, is what counts. There is less frivolousness and delusions of grandeur within GRANPALAZZO and the galleries appreciate that the event is more about creating the occasion to share an authentic and less stressful moment, having time for conversations both content-wise and business-wise, getting to know people more in depth, working in a ‘productive’ slow-mode while also enjoying art, and going back home with a whole new baggage. GRANPALAZZO is also a mood.
GRANPALAZZO is an exhibition-fair with a strong curatorial approach. In addition to inviting galleries to participate and building a dialogue with the artists, there is also an important installation component to your work. Why did you choose this approach?
It seemed an interesting way to create a conversation between eras considering the setting we had decided to work within. The aura of the noble building with its architectural features coming together with present forms, voices, practices creates a choral implausible discourse that we wanted to make become true. Yet, it is charming as it is challenging to work within a historical building that is protected by special laws. We have to work around various restrictions in terms of the installation process, that in some cases have led the artists towards new ways of showing or even thinking and developing works. We always try to discuss carefully how to install each piece in the Palazzo, and months in advance engage in a very tight conversation with the galleries and artists in the attempt to find the best solution to exhibit, convey and give value to the different practices which are involved in GRANPALAZZO.
Thinking of Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, our thoughts turn to the film Gattopardo (1962) by Luchino Visconti, who shot all of the interiors of Donnafugata in the Palazzo. As a curator, how do you approach an exhibition space with a strong character like this?
History had a very strong appeal on me and I’m always thrilled to find new ways of experiencing it. My approach to Palazzo Chigi is respectful without being reverential. The key we found is to treat it as a friendly environment and not as a hostile-difficult one, to play with its identity and consider it a living element that has the possibility of building infinite new visions and versions of itself. I try to listen to Palazzo Chigi’s voice without being overwhelmed by it.
The rooms of the palace will not display solo shows but rather exhibit works of different artists. How did the gallery owners and artists respond to this idea?
Each gallery will be showing the work of one artist in a small solo show and each solo presentation will be in conversation with another one. The rooms of the Palazzo will thus each be hosting two artists and galleries in dialogue. Sometimes the dialogues are very fluid and sometime we have worked on the idea of divergence. Discussions aren’t always peaceful, so we like to spark some rooms up a bit. Usually the galleries are happy with this idea as they get the chance to closely bond and create new exchanges on different levels.
All galleries and artists are proposing new works or unique ways of experiencing their pieces. The audience will go through an unusual physical and temporal encounter, travelling through time and through different dimensions thanks to the contrast between the works and the presence of the Palazzo with its particular history. There will also be a performance program – promoted by three Rome based contemporary art spaces which we have invited them to collaborate – centered around the use of performance in Italian recent art history: a voyage lead by three generations of artists.
We look forward to guiding you through a completely different Palazzo Chigi!