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Interview with Gianfranco Maraniello

Morgana Masu and Gianfranco Maraniello

AfN: This is an Artfacts.Net interview with the director of GAM, Gianfranco Maraniello.
Good morning.

G. Maraniello: Good morning.

AfN: How did you come to the art world, and how to GAM?

G. Maraniello: I was so lucky to grow up inside the art world, with an artist as father, and to be given important opportunities when I was very young, in the sense that I started to work at the age of 22 in the Flash Art editorial office. After that, I began as curator for some exhibitions.
I came to the Palazzo delle Papesse as curator when this new contemporary art centre was arising, and then I had the great chance to be the curator of MACRO - Museum of Contemporary Art Rome - for three years. Finally I got this job at a really important moment towards a new museum project.

AfN: With you coming to the GAM, the institution took a new direction. Could you specify the nature of this shift?

G. Maraniello: It needed a shift, meaning that I came exactly in a changing stage. For several years, the Gallery of Modern Art was renovating its own museum identity. It was moving to a new site. This circumstance allowed a new project relating to the history of GAM; we have redefined tasks, aims, the name itself. The old GAM has changed into the Museum of Modern Art of Bologna, MAMBO. At the new venue, we have a special focus on everything relating to research, diffusion and entertainment of contemporary visual culture.

AfN: So GAM becomes MAMBO which will correspond to its identity and its special feature?

G. Maraniello: First of all, MAMBO is not only a museum that suddenly rises in the midst of the city. In one way, we already differ from what GAM represented; I am talking about an essential part of the revitalization of Bologna's periphery: the fair district. We are the final part of the renewal of Bologna's centre, in an area where there are already the Cinetheque, the Communication Sciences University, D.a.m.s (University of Art, Music, Theatre, Cinema disciplines) workshops, associative realities like Cassero or theatre projects by the University like Soffitta and so on. There will also be a park of sculptures and activities. It is located within 5 minutes from the central stations, so great attention was directed to the infrastructure that is going to be built in the next years. The idea is about the museum as a cultural epicentre. Mambo is a partner of a wider cultural district, and it will try to embed contemporary art in the present's larger cultural context.
Mambo is one element of a bigger institution, the Gallery of Modern Art. My managerial projects include developing 'Villa delle Rose', a wonderful exhibition space - but lacking those elements that make the difference between a museum a simple exhibition hall - and recovering the Morandi House for the Morandi Museum. Its importance is clear for the artist who worked throughout his lifetime in one room, a studio with the same objects that are still shown in Morandi Museum. Surely by 2009, the house will become a study centre on Morandi art works, with new perspectives for the museum as well. That means Mambo is one element amongst others of a wider institutional project.

AfN: How are you going to open the season?

G. Maraniello: We have thought of a great opening exhibition. The exhibition I attended together with Germano Celant, will open on May 5th, 2007; "Vertigo: the Century of Media, from the Futurism to Web". It is an exploration about how communication technologies influence the ways of making art, the sensitiveness of making Art. We are not fanatics of new technologies, but we are interested in knowing and understanding if, with this self-consciousness about new instruments and the history of the last century, we can find some transverse reading of what we define as contemporary. It's clear that several realities will be involved such as Library Sala Borsa, the Cinetheque, University workshops, concerts, lectures and visits to museums like the Pelagalli Collection with very important communication instruments on display, as the original radios used by Marconi from Bologna.

AfN: About the funding. Art works prices are going up, and museums all over the world, funded by public institutions, are confronted with some difficulties. How is MAMBO funded and what are the strategies?

G. Maraniello: MAMBO is historically funded by the Town Hall. It is a Town Hall institution with a status that allows it to have a certain financial autonomy including the chance to have several partnerships. We have a triennial financial plan with three other partners; the Town Hall contribution is 50% from 2007 to 2009. The others are Emilia Romagna Region and bank foundations, 'Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna' and 'Fondazione del Monte in Ravenna'. In addition, we have other contributions for specific projects, we are for instance carrying on a special project to acquire Italian art works, and especially young Italian art works, with the financial help of the Unicredit Group, another bank. Then we have another partner and - for some common productions - financial contributor: 'Bologna Fiere'.

AfN: About the fair, what is your opinion about Arte Fiera's policy relating to the number of and numeric difference between international and Italian galleries?

G. Maraniello: I think that Arte Fiera has proven, through the years, to be an important fair because it has always kept its own identity. I believe that, with the spotting of international fairs, organising a fair is an exploration of territory, and so presenting itself as the greatest and the most important Italian fair with the participation of important foreign galleries, allows Arte Fiera not to suffer from the worldwide competition. Its positioning is its winning power. I believe that Arte Fiera is improving the services, the spaces and so on, but I think it's essential not to get lost in the general homogeneity of fairs.

AfN: Do you think contemporary art is a good way to revitalize the cities?

G. Maraniello: Obviously. Every big city has been rebuilding itself, in some cases, with big architectural urban interventions and so with architectures devoted to host culture. We have great examples, Bilbao and Barcelona. Contemporary art in the East is a lifestyle symbol displaying a kind of attractiveness on an international level. This year, I worked as curator at the Shanghai Biennial, and it was clear that this is the trend.

AfN: Do you think Rome could be the right candidate for an international fair?

G. Maraniello: It depends on the positioning. If it wants to imitate other models that already exist, not at all. It is a big international city but this doesn't mean that there is automatically the chance for a great international fair. It depends on the project.

AfN: Do you think there is space for other fairs in Italy?

G. Maraniello: It's dangerous to multiply the fairs. We know, in Italy, there are a lot of private collectors so it is necessary to know how to realise specific projects which are appropriate to the situation.

AfN: What is missing in the Italian art system for a better functioning?

G. Maraniello: In Italy, I realised that the problem is, first of all, a missing diffusion of contemporary culture, a lack of confidence in the most advanced research, sometimes avant-garde research. I believe that there are limits in diffusion and information. We have a very big problem of professional deontology in the information system; another limit is to consider Italian art as Italian.

AfN: Thank you very much for your time.

G. Maraniello: Thank you.

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