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ARTISSIMA - Interview with Roberto Casiraghi, Director of Artissima

This is an interview with Artfacts.Net (R. Morgana Masu) and Roberto Casiraghi, Artissima director.

AfN: Good morning Mr Casiraghi.

Roberto Casiraghi: Good morning

AfN: Well let's start with first question. How did you come to art world and how to Artissima?

Roberto Casiraghi: I came to the art world selling advertising and I found myself in the happy condition to meet, above in Italy, antiquity art and modern art galleries and working with them for advertising reasons I was in the condition to answer to exhibition needs and to start working on fairs.

AfN: The last two years the slogan of the fair was "looking for something new". This year the fair presents itself with a strong image as a girl who shows her muscles and the slogan has become "feel contemporary". So it looks like to be or to appear young is an essential point for a fair with the aim to be international, contemporary and young nowadays. Do you want to be a fair with fresh air but with a "strong" temperament?

Roberto Casiraghi: Well, we don't want to be, but we are a young fair connected to young artists and young galleries. I believe the direction of Turin fair and his willing purpose is absolutely clear in the last years, and perhaps this year the fair has taken, more than last year, this strong direction.

AfN: The fair went through very hard period but last year achieved a very smash of audience, critics and also gallery owners declared to be very satisfied. You have involved great international people to organize a high-profile fair. Can we say that the fair is in good health or is it still a phase of settlement?

Roberto Casiraghi: I think that in the life nothing is fix fortunately and thus Artissima too in his way has had his stories, as everything that goes from a certain starting point to arrival point that we hope to be infinitive. It isn't fortunately an involution but is an evolution but we think the fair has marked his way loosing behind itself a very strong track but it has a great light in front of it seeing clearly the direction.

AfN: This year, what have you done new to get this result?

Roberto Casiraghi: Well, this year there is, in a different way from the last year and from two years ago, a common direction of board team to a sort of stressing on aspects related to young galleries and young artists.

AfN: In 2004 local administrations acquired the brand of the fair and Fondazione Torino Musei got to the management, a way to create a strong relation with the city and institutions. Has it been an attempt to give a contemporary face to the city?

Roberto Casiraghi: Yes for this reason but also because local administrations by TORINO MUSEI foundation didn't want leave vanishing the brand that for different reasons was going to move in other cities.

AfN: Emma Dexter, London Tate Modern curator, in a video-interview called "Does art change the city" said that what really changes a city are artists, what get in avangard way the city is artists. Has Artissima been changing Turin creating good condition for contemporary art world?

Roberto Casiraghi: Artissima plays in Turin and Turin is in the history of contemporary art, not only Italian but European too, one of main cities. If we would calculate how many artist has lived or has been living in Turin we could fill many pages. In this sense Artissima has some advantages because it had to stress only the city features working in a place where the artist presence has ever been strong.

AfN: Is this adding an extra value for Artissima in comparison with other fairs like Miart in Milan or Arte Fiera in Bologna?

Roberto Casiraghi: Absolutely yes, but the fairs built up its own way and this is his winning aspect in comparison with competitors, not only in Italy but in international context too.

AfN: About international context, we see the emerging of growing number of events and above all the emerging of co-event around a main fair as Basel-Miami, but it happened also in Berlin or in London. In your opinion which are factors that can give more important role to the fair in international context?

Roberto Casiraghi: First of all skill and serious professionalism of our organization. Then the fact that our city Turin is a city with tradition, culture and taste concerning artists or gallery owners or collectors that not all the competitors cities have. And then because our project is very different from other main international fairs.

AfN: And this project?

Roberto Casiraghi: This is a project that give the chance to collectors to come to Turin and discover something. Discovering in the contemporary art world are almost a rareness because main international fairs attempt is to show an established market, while Artissima feature, more than other fairs, is to show to audience a potential market and then to involve not famous artists and so the chance to choose and to invest in a way that is impossible in other ones.

AfN: About potential market, I have seen in your cultural program a conversation called Chinese Art Today, but just few Chinese galleries are presents, well there is Galleria Continua that works in Beijing ... Is it a tribute due to an eligible market or is a real interest in a little explored art world?

Roberto Casiraghi: Well there is not only Galleria Continua but there is Marella Arte Contemporanea and someone else who attends about relationships… or who has galleries in Beijing or who has relationships with Chinese artists. That part of program has build up thanks to scientific board teamwork whose David Ross is coordinator and Ida Gianelli and Pier Giovanni Castagnoli other two participants. The Scientific board tried to link to the fair a kind of look toward a market that is interesting not only for the art world.

AfN: In your opinion what makes an international fair, the percentage of foreigner galleries or the internationality of Italian galleries?

Roberto Casiraghi: Both the things with a third element that probably is the first: the presence of international collectors. As spending possibilities as understanding skills as geographic provenance ...

AfN: and to be appealing for international collecting what did Artissima specifically?

Roberto Casiraghi: Artissima arranged, and this is the focus, a system that has its highlight in "Novembre Arte Contemporanea" (November Contemporary Art), and developed a very sophisticated collector program. We are present in the most important fairs worldwide with very diffused hard work but we get fresh information to bring in Turin the real great collectors of artworks.

AfN: This is year Jennifer Flay, artistic director of FIAC in Paris, underlines how the moving to the heart of Paris was important for them in order to offer to audience the chance to enjoy the unique quality of Parisian lifestyle. Well, what does Turin offer of special?

Roberto Casiraghi: Well, Turin offers from a geographic point of view chance that Paris certainly hasn't, from a culinary point of view possibilities that Paris certainly hasn't, from museum point of view about contemporary field quality something Paris hasn't. And that is a complicated comparison because Paris is capital of an important country with a culture and a tradition that brings in that city the most part of history and artistic heritage of that nation, while we are a country of 301 thousands square kilometers where 60% of world artistic heritage has spread out in a uniform way in all territory, so it is an improper comparison.

AfN: But it is interesting anyway how much is important for an important fair as FIAC too, placed in the heart of the city. About the venue Artissima placed in Torino Esposizioni earlier and then has moved to Lingotto, at the beginning probably was too wide but now things it looks go better, in the future will you move again to Torino Esposizioni or do you think Lingotto will be the definitive venue?

Roberto Casiraghi: Actually coming back to Lingotto, is coming back at home because Artissima was born in Lingotto and six editions placed there, then for building management and property reasons, Artissima had to move and then came back three years ago. I think Lingotto can be the definitive venue, certainly Torino Esposizioni is a fascinating location and is more central but of course is not the same thing in Paris because placing in Turin suburbs are not suburbs in Paris, we can say that Paris suburbs can be very close to Turin, but Turin suburbs is Turin anyway.

AfN: a question about future. What we have to look forward from next editions?

Roberto Casiraghi: I believe from next Artissima editions we are going to have more stress on the relationships with young galleries and a stronger linking with young artists. I believe that fair future will be played upon that, to leave slowly, as during years modern has been left becoming only a contemporary art fair. I think leaving contemporary art tout-court and try to present just solo shows and galleries that presents only one artist in order to looks less like a market but to be a great exhibition closer to cultural aspects, more than now.

AfN: So, it means there will be more importance for artists and for emerging artists or for avant-guard works?

Roberto Casiraghi: I believe that it can be a good perspective for our fair.

AfN: Can we say that what makes Artissima different from other fairs is this avant-guard and discovering feature?

Roberto Casiraghi: I believe our audience has the feeling, when they come in Artissima, to see something they have never seen before, that it can be bought with human economic access and the chance to bring at home an artwork with potentially growing value.

AfN: A closing question. Have you got a life slogan or a work slogan?

Roberto Casiraghi: I try desperately to separate my work slogan from life one. It would be too embarrassing to say which is work slogan for people who works with me and my life slogan would be more embarrassing to say...

AfN: Well, thank you a lot Dott. Casiraghi.

Roberto Casiraghi: Thank you very much.

Inteview: R. Morgana Masu

R. Morgana Masu, Roberto Casiraghi and Artur M. Holweg

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