The demopractic work, when art connects and organises society
On 10th January, the Brera Academy hosted the presentation of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s catalogue “Between obverse and reverse”. Paolo Naldini, director of Cittadellarte, was also present at the event: here is his speech. “The operation described in the catalogue – he said – is a perfect example of the principle of the communicating vessels, of a re-balancing through connection and of a transgressing without betraying”.

The presentation of a book or, better, a network of speeches by some of the authors of the volume itself: this is what took place last Friday at 12 at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. The catalogue Between obverse and reverse, named after Michelangelo Pistoletto’s exhibition opened on 19th January 2019 at the Partners & Mucciaccia Gallery in Singapore, focuses on Cittadellarte’s contaminations and artistic productions on the island city-state off the coast of southern Malaysia, featuring a rich documentation of images and texts. The pictures range from the opening of the exhibition, to the unveiling of the Third Paradise on the grass roof-top of the School of Art, Design and Media of the University of Singapore, to the talk that involved the Biellese artist and Ben Feringa as speakers (all the details in a previous article). As mentioned, the images are accompanied by a series of distinguished contributions authored by some of the speakers at the event of the 10th January at the Brera Academy, specifically: Michelangelo Pistoletto; Giovanni Iovane, director of the Brera Academy; Roberto Favaro, deputy director of the Brera Academy; Andrea Nanetti, associate professor at the School of Art, Design and Media of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore; Paolo Naldini, director of Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto; Mario Pieroni, art director of RAM radioartemobile; Massimiliano Mucciaccia from the Mucciaccia Gallery.

To outline part of the contents of the event, here is the speech by the director of Cittadellarte: “After Aristotle and Hegel have been quoted – opened Naldini in reference to the speech preceding his – I won’t mention any other great thinkers. I will talk about Donald Rumsfeld instead, the abominable figure accompanying Bush when he tried to explain that we had to engage in new crusades. What was he claiming? That sometimes the solution of a problem lies in its connection with another: two problems can therefore give you the solution. Pure genius, even if a perverse concept in his case. We can therefore deduce not only that we can learn from anybody, but also that connection is somehow regenerative. How does this system at the basis of Pistoletto’s Manifesto Progetto Arte from 1994 – and therefore of Cittadellarte – operate? We have to transgress without betraying and move from one context to the other leaving bridges as traces. This is true for both human and non-human: leaving the first to inhabit the second, but without denying or rejecting the human, and hence assuming the perspective of the climate, of a mountain, of a river, for example attributing them with legal stance and rights, as it happened in New Zealand”.

Naldini then focused on Cittadellarte: “UNIDEE is based on the Manifesto Progetto Arte and on ‘establishing a communication’, like the video-installation Communicating Vessels. The work of art – he argued – consists in linking and organising what gets connected. You create a social fabric, giving form to a demos through operating – therefore through practices – and that’s how we get to the demopraxy, which represents the work Cittadellarte is carrying out with the organisations composing society. We therefore have to transgress the boundaries of the world of art, not to betray it, but rather to assert, engage art outside of its ranks. This is possible by connecting, and creating collaborations and institutions like the embassies of the Third Paradise”. Here, Naldini mentioned and illustrated part of the work done by some of the Rebirth ambassadors, like Paola Salvi, Giacinto di Pietrantonio and Yuval Avital. Not only that: he particularly talked about the university embassies, specifically naming one of the other speakers at the presentation, Andrea Nanetti (associate professor at the School of Art, Design and Media of NTU-Nanyang Technological University in Singapore).

And what about the galleries? Together, connected – continued the director in reference to RAM radioartemobile and the Mucciaccia Gallery – and in fact sometimes driving force. The operation narrated in the catalogue is a perfect example of transgression and connection in a small network: galleries, collectors, educational institutions, NTU, Cittadellarte, the network of embassies of the Third Paradise and Brera. I am going to close on this, emphasising that what is happening today is exemplary of what Pistoletto and Cittadellarte, with the University of Ideas, are committed to achieving”.

Cover image (from the left): Paolo Naldini, Andrea Nanetti, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Massimiliano Mucciaccia, Mario Pieroni.