Magazzino Italian Art presented Contemporary Art and Social Justice in Italy, a live-streamed conversation from Tuesday, November 16, 2021, part of our Pensiero Plurale initiative. Curated by Ilaria Conti, Pensiero Plurale was a series of programs focused on diversity in culture and the arts across Italy and the United States.
Contemporary Art and Social Justice in Italy invited arts professionals working on new forms of institution-building to discuss how their work toward social and cultural justice takes shape through multidisciplinary and experimental approaches.
Ilaria Conti, Justin Randolph Thompson (Black History Month, Florence), Chiara Figone (Archive, Milan), and Ilaria Bonacossa (Torino Social Impact Art Award) discussed new organizations established in Italy that cultivate forms of social and political engagement through the arts. The conversation included input from institutions and projects that commission, produce, and support artistic practices that make space for new critical discourse and knowledge(s), rooted in research-based approaches, with the ability to rethink the relations between art, activism, civil society, and institutions.
You can watch the live recording of the webinar above.
About the speakers
As an independent curator, Ilaria Conti focuses on research-based practices engaging with de-colonial epistemologies and the relationship between institutional infrastructures, communal care, and civic agency.
Most recently, she served as Research Curator at the Centre Pompidou for Cosmopolis, a multiyear platform devoted to research-based artistic practices. Previously, she served as Exhibitions and Programs Director at CIMA New York, Assistant Curator of the 2016 Marrakech Biennale, and Samuel H. Kress Interpretive Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other positions.
She serves as Advisor in the Visual Arts for the American Academy in Rome and as Vice-President of the African Art in Venice Forum. She is an awarded mentee of the 2021-2022 Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation's Mentorship Program. She holds a BA and MA in Art History and Curatorial Studies from the University of Rome La Sapienza and an MA in Visual Arts Management from New York University.
Curated projects include: Pensiero Plurale (2021), Lo Sa La Ter Ruz [On This Red Land] (2021), Proximities (2021), Rethinking Nature (2021), ALT(ering) + SHIFT(ing) + COMM (uning) (2020-ongoing), Prove di R(i)esistenza (2020), Making Space: Art & Generative Communal Practices (2020), Labor/Art/Auratic Conditions (2020), Cosmopolis #2: Rethinking the Human (2019), Cosmopolis #1.5: Enlarged Intelligence (2018), Cosmopolis #1: Collective Intelligence (2017), 6th Marrakech Biennale: Not New Now (2016).
Torino Social Impact Art Award
The Director of Artissima International Fair of Contemporary Art since 2017, Ilaria Bonacossa is an art critic and curator. With a degree in Contemporary Art History from the State University of Milan, after taking a master in curatorial studies at Bard College (USA) she worked in New York at the Whitney Museum. Fornine years curator of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, in 2007 she was a member of the Jury for the Leone d’Oro of the 52nd Venice Art Biennale. From 2012 to 2016 Ilaria became the Artistic Director of Museo Villa Croce, Genova and curated the permanent installations of Antinori Art Projects until 2019. In 2013 she curated Katrin Sigurdardottir’s solo project at the Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. She has been a member of the Technical Committee for acquisitions of FRAC Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur in Marseilles; the Steering Committee of PAC in Milan, a member of the Selection Committee of the Prince Pierre Prize, Monaco and director for Italy of the Artist Pension Trust International programme. Since 2016 she has been the artistic director of Fondazione La Raia. Since 2019 she is Course Advisor Leader for the Art MarketCourse at Naba Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan.
The Torino Social Impact Art Award is the result of the desire to create a dialogue between art and social innovation, with the aim of initiating actions that can have an impact on the present, in the contemporary society. Promoted by Torino Social Impact, created and coordinated by Artissima and supported by Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, the prize is aimed at young people with training in the world of contemporary art, of a multicultural and migratory background.
Chiara Figone is an editor, researcher, agitator, and cultural producer. She is the founder and artistic director of Archive – a publishing house and non-profit organization operating out of Berlin, Dakar, and Milan –, as well as the editor in chief of Archive Journal and the associated editor of No order magazine. Since 2007 she is a Professor of Editorial Studies at NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan. Among others, she has collaborated in different forms with organizations such as Arsenal Cinema, Akademie der Kunst, Arge/kunst, Dak’Art Biennale, DEPO, District, documenta 14, Cinenova, Casco, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Savvy contemporary, The Showroom, Steirischer Herbst, and Tate Modern.
Archive is an ensemble of practitioners and storytellers collaborating across different longitudes, and sharing multiple languages, ancestries, and sensitivities, moved by a communal need to imagine the world otherwise. By creating cracks in dominant narratives, and generating ruptures in consolidated ontologies, Archive’s commitment is deeply rooted in the critical effort to disrupt and overturn Eurocentric, patriarchal and colonial epistemological paradigms. Ours is a po-ethical attempt not to escape the world we live in but believe in “the other world within the world” (Harney and Moten), or “to end the world as we know it” (da Silva). Through a collaborative and ensemble-oriented study, Archive un-weaves texts, opening them to synesthetic modalities by de-centralizing unilateral narratives, fixed performances, and sensorial primacies. Archives are conceived not only as repositories of knowledge/power, systems of thought and violence, but also as tools that continuously un-fix, de-archive, and re-archive through non-hegemonic and non-categorical models. Since its inception in 2009, Archive has realized a manifold of books, journals, exhibitions, screenings, lectures, performances, readings, and has established convivial sites in different cities made of open libraries, residency programs for artists and writers, as well as moments of co-learning devised with various pedagogical institutions.
Justin Randolph Thompson
Black History Month Florence, Florence
Justin Randolph Thompson is an artist, cultural facilitator and educator born in Peekskill, NY in ’79. Based between Italy and the US since 1999, Thompson is Co-Founder and Director of Black History Month Florence, a multi-faceted exploration of Black histories and cultures in the context of Italy founded in 2016. Having realized, coordinated, curated, facilitated and promoted over 300 events and with 5 ongoing research projects, the initiative has been reframed as a Black cultural center called The Recovery Plan.
Thompson is a recipient of a 2020 Italian Council Research Fellowship, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, a Franklin Furnace Fund Award, a Visual Artist Grant from the Fundacion Marcelino Botin and an Emerging Artist Fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park amongst others. His work and performances have been exhibited widely in institutions including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and The American Academy in Rome and are part of numerous collections including The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Museo MADRE. His life and work seek to deepen the discussions around socio-cultural stratification and hierarchical organization by employing fleeting temporary communities as monuments and fostering projects that connect academic discourse, social activism and DIY networking strategies in annual and biennial gathering, sharing and gestures of collectivity.
Born out of the over 300 events orchestrated, curated, coordinated or co-promoted by Black History Month Florence in its 6 editions and 5 research platforms, The Recovery Plan @SRISA was inaugurated in September 2021 as a collaboration with Santa Reparata International School of Art. The Recovery Plan is a Black cultural center that fosters transnational exchange around cultures and peoples of African descent, employing research, promotion and documentation in relation to cultural production as a means for examining the history and contemporary legacy of Blackness in a global context. Designed as a cultural repository, research center and exhibition space for art, performance, lectures and socially engaged education, the center hosts a range of events, seminars, workshops and residencies designed to reflect upon Italy as a historic site for cultural exchange.