Artissima 2014 Review


The aisles of Turin’s Lingotto Fiere were filled with collectors, artists and emerging galleries this weekend as it held the fantastically realized 21st edition of Artissima. The international contemporary art fair positions itself as a window into the experimental frontier of the visual arts, with sections devoted to young galleries, solo shows for emerging artists, work from the 60s and 80s, publications, editions, and Italian art foundations.

Representing the host city were Franco Noero, Alberta Peola, CO2, Guida Costa Projects, In Arco, and Norma Mangione. Alongside Italian galleries based outside of Turin such as Milan’s Brand New Gallery, these demonstrated the increasing value placed on contemporary art in the country. 

The fair has a reasonably relaxed atmosphere – for Jal Hamad, the gallery director of Sabrina Amrani, European collectors seem prone to researching their potential purchases more thoroughly than their American counterparts (who instead seem to go with ‘gut-feeling’), and as a result the first few days of smaller European fairs such as Artissima are often full of a thoughtful patience. The Madrid-based Sabrina Amrani showcased practices from different latitudes – South Asia, Latin America and the Arab world – deploying strategies to map out territories of freedom that are neither political nor historical, but rather intimate and introspective. One particularly strong work was Zoulikha Bouabdellah’s ‘Cauchemar’ (2013), inspired by the age-old concept of nightmare and depicting a woman and a winged beast, realised in red lacquer nail paint.

The London galleries represented the UK’s emerging scene strongly, with Josh Lilley, VITRINE, and Hannah Barry presenting dynamic multi-disciplinary work. Josh Lilley’s presented a group show in which Nick Goss’ large semi-abstract painting in mute colours shone.

The Lingotto Fiere whirred with energy all weekend, galvanized in part by a schedule of performance pieces under the collective title ‘Perf4m’. Groups of performers variously blew up balloons until they popped, conducted impromptu fashion shows, pranced around in absurd costumes (including one mysterious participant in a bright blue bear suit), and played naff songs on a piano until nearby exhibitors couldn’t stand it anymore. VITRINE’s Leah Capaldi explored ideas of intimacy and propriety when she sent fifteen performers out into the crowd on Thursday drenched in the Chanel perfume ‘Allure’. Capaldi explains that the idea for the performance was born when she walked past a woman wearing her mother’s perfume and was struck by its ability to evoke an intense emotional reaction. After conducting a survey into the most-commonly worn scent by female gallerists, ‘Allure’ was chosen (which, coincidentally, applies also to VITRINE’s Director Alys Williams).

Running parallel with the main fair was SHIT AND DIE, an independent yet interlinked show rooted in Turin’s social, political and artistic heritage, and curated by Maurizio Cattelan, Marta Papini, and Palais de Tokyo’s Myriam Ben Salah. According to the fair, SHIT AND DIE was conceived as a highly subjective, obsessive and irrationally non-exhaustive composition in which different stories, objects and artworks incorporate into one consistent narrative that visitors can read as a whole tale.

Artissima 2014 ran in Turin from November 6th-9th

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