Artissima Unplugged 2020, the digital contemporary art fair open to all

Artissima, Italy’s most important contemporary art fair, starts in November. Due to the pandemic, it has been transformed into an innovative virtual experience.

Art enthusiasts will already know that Artissima is coming up. Since 1994, this contemporary art fair that takes place in Turin, in northern Italy, has combined an international market presence with a powerful focus on experimentation and research. What about this year? Art adapts and changes shape: a digital edition and physical exhibitions will coexist – in the hope that museums will be allowed to reopen once restrictions are eased in Italy – until early December.

#Artissima annuncia che l’apertura al pubblico delle tre esposizioni fisiche di Artissima Unplugged è stata rimandata…

Posted by Artissima Fair on Saturday, November 7, 2020

Artissima Unplugged, the 2020 edition is transformed

The message is strong. Artissima never stops. This is Italy’s main contemporary art fair and perhaps, this year more than ever, the art world needs some stability – even if this means making radical changes. Hence the new format of the 2020 edition, which is unplugged. Artissima will be extended in time and space, bringing together digital projects and physical exhibitions. The organisers call it an “acoustic” version of the fair, one more focused on the instruments (the works of art) and voices (galleries). After all, what is more contemporary than transformation?

Artissima XYZ

There are two virtual projects. The first is Artissima XYZ, an all-new cross-media platform dedicated to the curated sections that constitute the fair’s historic soul: Present Future, Back to the Future and Disegni. These will be available online between the 3rd of November and 9th of December. “Thirty artists, ten for each section, explore the most stimulating and unique studies in contemporary art,” explains Ilaria BonacossaDirector of Artissima. “The name XYZ is inspired by the Cartesian coordinates,” she adds, “symbolising the platform’s ability to delve into artists’ work and find unexpected cross-sections. The three letters also represent the imaginary and peculiar language that only artists can create. Anyone who accesses the platform will find guided tours, podcasts, video interviews, and, of course, the artworks themselves”.

Present Future is dedicated to up-and-coming talents under forty. Back to the Future presents monographic projects to rediscover the great pioneers of contemporary art, with works created in a specific period: the one chosen for this year’s edition is 1960-1999. Disegni explores monographic projects dedicated to contemporary experimentations in drawing, a medium originally associated with paper before being radically transformed.

This new online platform offers an original, immersive and valuable experience for collectors as well as anyone wishing to deepen their knowledge of contemporary art, accompanied by the voices of those who traditionally write the fair’s story, be it physical or digital. The other project comprises an online catalogue through which attendees can explore galleries, artists and works divided into the Main Section, New Entries, Dialogue/Monologue, Art Spaces & Editions. These will be online from the 5th of November to the 9th of December.

Artissima 2020
Galleria Llano, Noe Martinez – Un Acto Antes de un Concepto, 2016 Exhibition view, Parque Galería, Mexico City. Courtesy of the artist and LLANO (Mexico City)

Physical exhibitions: where and when to visit

We know, however, that art is also – and most importantly – a tangible, physical experience. Therefore, even in the year of Covid-19, as soon as museums and exhibition spaces reopen Artissima will unveil three exhibitions. These will take place across museums of the Torino Musei Foundation: GAM (Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea), Palazzo Madama (Museo Civico d’Arte Antica) and MAO (Museo d’Arte Orientale). The exhibitions curated by Bonacossa in dialogue with the galleries share the theme Frenetic Standstill and will include artworks from the galleries chosen for this edition of the fair. The inauguration is expected to take place in December 2020.

Christian Holstad
Christian Holstad © Francesca Bottazzin

FPT for Sustainable Art: a prize for art, environment and innovation

What remains unchanged this year is the involvement of FPT Industrial, a leading manufacturer of industrial motors that partnered with Artissima in 2019 as well. For the occasion, it exhibited a new installation by Christian HolstadConsider Yourself as a Guest (Cornucopia), aimed at drawing attention to marine plastic pollution and the urgent need to protect our seas and oceans. During last year’s edition, Holstad also took part in a series of events promoted by the fair linked to the talk Make a Better World Now!. The artist took this opportunity to explore the relationship between art and sustainability, presenting his work alongside Melissa McGill‘s experience, in particular her project Venezia Red Regatta.

This year, however, the commitment to a sustainable future is even more solidly grounded, embodied in the FPT Prize for Sustainable Art. An international jury will select the artist whose research and work are the result both of a of virtuous ideation process and sustainable production chain. Artissima’s website states that the prize “investigates the creative process and sheds light on its importance, centrality and impact on the dimensions with which the artist comes to grips with his or her research. The work is seen as the result of a creative procedure that involves people, materials, lives and has to come to terms with organisational, logistical and economic mechanisms, where sustainability is seen as the motor of transformation of both creative and industrial processes”. Carlo Moroni, Head of Communication at FPT Industrial, adds: “The prize runs in parallel with our commitment not only to offering more sustainable products but also paying close attention to and taking responsible for our production processes and supply chain”.

Consider Yourself as a Guest (Cornucopia) – Christian Holstad, Artissima 2019 © Antinori

Art, environment and innovation are the key themes that an international panel of distinguished figures in the contemporary art world will be looking for in the prize winner. The jury includes Marianne Dobner, Curator of the Mumok Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien in Vienna, Austria; Andrea Lissoni, Director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst in Germany; and Luca Lo Pinto, Art Director of the MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, Italy.

Bringing together art and sustainability through this prize is just one of many steps taken by FPT, which since 2019 has established a connection to the contemporary art world to tell the story of its commitment to sustainability and marine conservation. And it chose the most prestigious context in which to do so: the 2019 Venice Biennale. FPT Industrial was the Italian Pavilion’s main sponsor, and it was here that Consider Yourself as a Guest (Cornucopia), commissioned by the company to American artist Christian Holstad, was exhibited for the first time.

Christian Holstad
Consider Yourself as a Guest (Cornucopia) Christian Holstad for FPT © Francesca Bottazzini

The installation was also shown on the Canal Grande and subsequently in the courtyard of Ca’ Foscari University. Following this first project, the company became involved in other initiatives such as Clean Sea Life in San Benedetto del Tronto, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, an extraordinary campaign to clean up the country’s coastlines and seafloors embraced by marine conservation enthusiasts as well as institutions. Furthermore, on World Environment Day, FPT held the talk From Pollution to Solution in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University, where the ever-contemporary and critical issue of marine plastic pollution was discussed.

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