The art of balance #5 | Giacomo Nicolella Maschietti, how will you smile?
The journalist, art reporter for major Italian newspapers, is the fifth guest of the new initiative launched by Cittadellarte, a project of rebirth and responsible social transformation called “The art of balance / Pandemopraxy”. Maschietti talks about his quarantine spent with his son and declares himself quite doubtful that this emergency will make us better people, especially in light of the problems that the post-pandemic will bring on an economic level. The author also expands on the emotional and environmental impact of Covid-19 and on the future of art.

How will you smile?
If I had to summarise the smiles of this quarantine I’d say that they’ve all been linked to the daily relationship I’ve had the opportunity to foster with my son, who, I’ll have you know, is two, the so-called “terrible two”. This forced cohabitation has meant that I’ve had to find a way to cope with every moment of the day and rediscover, every day, that it was a precious moment. Because he’s growing up fast and, unlike other fathers, I’ve had the privilege to be able to see it happening.
Said that, I’m quite doubtful that this emergency will make us better people. I wish for it, but I haven’t perceived this improvement.

Why should we ever come out of it as better people?
We will be subject to social distancing and isolation, which have never been part of our culture. Many will find themselves jobless, many will risk having to close their businesses in order not to sink even further into debt, many will have witnessed the death of family members and friends without having had the chance to attend their funeral.
The crisis awaiting us is of monumental proportions and will likely contribute to widening the gap between the lucky few and the rest of the population.

The Third Paradise project by Michelangelo Pistoletto is a poem depicting a better future in which man realises what an idiot he has been and reconciles with nature. But this must be done quickly. Giving up hydrocarbons cannot be a mere slogan to finance the next marketing campaign. The southern hemisphere is on track for a rise in temperature that will cause unprecedented migrations and even greater inequalities. This is a moment when a new start cannot be represented by the simple pursuit of a happy degrowth, the whole model has to change. Because the previous one has failed. Whereas on an emotional level I’m looking forward to the lockdown being eased because I think that the quarantine has been feeding hate and our worst inclinations, with the internet helping spread them. I’ve seen and heard too many angry people take up frankly indefensible stances only because they were doing it from the safety of their homes. The sooner we understand that the digital is not something other than our life, that it is in fact our life, the sooner we will be in a position to best exploit its potential. Going digital means saving space. It means better and faster services. It means connection, not exclusion. The digital must be our ally in an enlightened start-over. Which, hopefully, won’t resonate with the hate that has pervaded the social media in the last few days.

To conclude talking about art, which is my area of expertise, I think that this break should open the eyes of many artists. This lockdown has clearly shown how great the distance between contemporary art and the public is. It has made obvious that today’s art doesn’t represent a form of thought born of a common ground, of current issues and considerations, but it is the form of expression of a long series of single entities in dialogue with few privileged collectors. It can’t work this way. Art must have a public. It must talk to somebody.
It is otherwise a phone calling a non-existing number.