C.M. The Secession in the end is the same. It was founded by Gustav Klimt in the 1897, and this may ring a bell in your heads… Klimt, together his best buddies, went to the emperor and asked for a space where they could be finally separated from the Viennese Kunstlerhauses since they disagreed with the ongoing tendencies. The emperor, Kaiser Franz Joseph, was open enough to just let them take the place, build the house and never ask for rent. Maybe it was from the 1980s that the Secession tried to refocus to become an international institution again. Yet, still now it has the same structure, it is a artist association, which has a committee a board of eighteen people who still make their decisions without any political influence from the outside. For example, Gustav Klimt paint his Beethoven Frieze, which is now paying 50% of the bills; the house is still independent from politics and market tendencies. The Frieze and the building itself, they attract many tourists, besides also people from the art world who come to see the contemporary art shows, it is the combination of the two values what basically pays the bills. Klimt and his friends did a very good job. Still in Vienna, especially after this ongoing crisis when private institutions have to close their doors, Secession is still a fixed monument in this scene, holding it together.
F.B. Yes, today we did discuss about this topic, how we could compare the Viennese scene with here in Sicily. Beside the activity with the gallery here in Catania you had this summer residency in a small village on the Nebrodi, in front of the Thyrrenian, Ficarra. Mauro Cappotto is an artist living in Ficarra, he wanted to underline that, during the mid-1900, this small village was also home of the poet and aristocrat Lucio Piccolo, also relative with Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa author of the famous novel The Leopard. So, Mauro’s idea was to take this aristocratic palace, owned by the poet Lucio Piccolo, and to do a museum out of it, collecting all the artistic works that came out of an art residency program he started to organize. The name of the museum is La stanza della seta (The Silk Room), quoting a lyric from Lucio Piccolo.
OK then, three artists from the collicaligreggi were invited to do this residency this summer, Ute, Christoph and Nicola Pecoraro – he’s also here although he acts as he’s not [laugh], they’re all part of this Viennese network. Well, I don’t know if it was because the get influenced by the volcano Etna, Chris and Nic wanted to forge some alluminium cans into sculptures. [one of the results is shown in the space next door] They seemed to have really clear idea what to do in Ficarra. Also Ute, although she wanted to have her atelier inside the building, the Stanza della seta. And my interpretation is that for a Viennese artist must be wonderful in the summertime to have the chance to work in a very big atelier where you can choose working inside or outside on the terrace. And this reminds me this very Sicilian heritage that of the traditional “Grand Tour” of European intellectuals attracted by the Mediterranean island, the south of Italy, in order to reconnect with the (Greek and Latin) origins of the European culture.
U.M. It was a really great experience in Ficarra, to be able to do this residency, but in general we travel really a lot and moving is something normal for us. So, there was not this romantic desire to go south to discover our southern roots! [laugh] But what is interesting, especially for Ficarra, is that it is such a small environment. It is not like in a big city, where you have many kinds of spaces, workshops. In Ficarra you are really reduced to your basics, you have to rethink the way of how you produce and what you want to do. At the same time it is not a kind of practice we have, where you just work from one project to the next, in the sense that you go to place and say “I go there for a few weeks and then i have a finished product”. The great thing about the whole thing was that we didn’t go there to finish something but that we got space and time to work on your own practice. This is also something we were talking about before about the Secession in Vienna – it is a space that offers artists a great opportunity to work on their practices and I think, on a little scale, we also try to give a same opportunity with the Black Pages, to enable something, whatever the outcome might be. It is not that we have a concept or the wish to make a round thing out of something, or a definite statement, rather the project’ statement is in the process itself.
C.M. And that’s maybe the moment when you can make it the same out of the Secession, the Black Pages, the residency in Ficarra. It’s always like you give the opportunity on one thing but what is far more important is that you give an healthy and passionate surrounding for those you invite. In the case of Ficarra, I mean in the residency in Vienna people don’t usually take time to listen to you, to see your work, in Ficarra everybody is still, kind of healthy. That’s the point when we can get back to this text we started our discussion, the social forms, and maybe this is why I consider it still a positive text because implicates the positive side of the society. You should all come to the opening on Saturday at the collicaligreggi gallery! Ciao!*
Above, Christoph Meier Untitled (Discotheque), 2009. Steel, electrical components, neon, lacquer. Variable dimensions. Courtesy galleria collicaligreggi.