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Quality Comes First: Talking with Silvia Evangelisti

Since she had dinner in the streets of Bologna with Leo Castelli and Robert Rauschemberg, as young intern at Documenta Gallery, in Tourin, maybe few years have  gone by. Miss Evangelista, however, has manteined her charm and charisma and shared episodes of her whole life.

Starting from her beginning at Artefiera where she became, between world – class gallerists, “the mascotte of  them all”, to the time she persuaded one of his friend to buy a Rauschenberg blanket, “let think about what favour I did to him”, miss Evangelisti succeeded in 2003 as artistic director of one of the most important italian fair, thanks to the professional and personal trust and respect – “with gallerists it was a one- to- one relationship” – of the artistic international crème de la crème.

From that moment, the meeting with the entrepreneur Cordero di Montezemolo who wanted her as innovative force of a struggling fair, this was the breakthrough.

The breakthrough first dressed as a young Evangelisti, walking through the stands involved in “marking the gallerists on a catalogue that I was carrying around”, then with the Arte White Night invention, important cultural and social event  in Bologna – taking an approach which had been unknown at that times but that later created literature – through significant  partnership with important  of key contemporary art people.

Like Bill Viola, whom she persuaded to come to Italy telling him he would have had a 700 students audience (“you know, artists adore students”), or Pistoletto, who then became a friend of her, or Rotella. Up to the call from the manager of the king Damien Hirst who after he had known about Viola’s experience in Rome, wanted to live that adventure too.

With honesty, intelligence and a lot of irony, Silvia Evangelisti told almost about 20 years of contemporary art in Italy and answered about the present youth situation as subjected to flexibility, the curatorial figure and the art economics.

She spared no efforts even talking about Artefiera nowdays.

Miss Evangelisti, what’s your opinion about the uncertainty lived by young people who as you did, want today to work in art world moved by passion but are pressed between economic insecurity of not remunerated jobs and the difficulty of having access to museums, foundations and galleries?

 I think that this situation has been changing. At present, I have noticed that public authorities  are more open towards new generation, just think about all new initiatives concerning educational programs for children. Private foundations, though, are getting even more interesting and bigger too.

The tax burden exerted on galleries make to them a harder  effort to hire new people. That’s understandable. It’s true maybe that the situation is heavy but young people may be able to rely on high mobility abroad.

What do you answer those people who want to remain in Italy in order to valorize our cultural background here?

In this context opportunities are limited both in Italy and abroad. I suggest young people to introduce  their own “Italian spirit” as added value, always representing good taste and joie de vivre abroad. On the other hand, culture work world is greatly changing and everyday new professional figures are born. You have to find it and get it adaptable to circumstances.

What are in your opinion three skills a young gallerist is supposed to have?

I think he or she must have a lot. If I have only three choises, I suggest having taste, not being affected by trends, that’s often dangerous, and being a  risktaker.

Concerning the curator figure, has it mantained its prestige or is it going to lose  some along the way?

It depends on the curator. This professional figure has replaced the critic, during the 80s the word “curator” didn’t even exist. Now it’s essential for cultural industry. Nevertheless, in my opinion when a curator becomes the museum or foundation spokesman, loses his intellectual indipendence, turning down his own vision.

At the beginning you mentioned your sympathy towards Maurizio Cattelan, derisory artist and emblematic symbol of the ambivalence in art economics. What do you think about the present market?

That’s a speculative system, for sure. I find Cattelan an interesting artist for deeper reasons, not for his market success. The system is now stressfull but I assume it will stand up because it finds always a way to support the pressures. As everything in this moment, it depends too much on money and I don’t know how much time it will last.

What do you think about Artefiera today?

Talking about Artefiera today in absolute terms will be unfair because it could seem an oversight towards what happened during its former years. Regardless of  her qualities and her efforts, in fact, Angela Vettese knew she was carrying on a gamble and having few chances when she’d started at the beginning. I hold hergreat respect: she was brave and she did it well. At the moment, I have a bad opinion about the previous actions in Artefiera management, driven by greed and by consequential indiscriminate inclusion.

In  conclusion, would you like toshare a fond memory you have?

Years ago, Luigi Mainolfi wanted me to be the model for one of his sculptures. Gilberto Zorio, dearest friend of him, was in Bologna at that moment and proposes himself to hire the cast. At a certain point – I have no idea what happened – I started to feel so uncomfortable that Zorio had to call Mainolfi at his lab to know how to handle this. I couldn’t take it anymore but it was funny!