Nothing To See, Nothing To Hide

by Andrea Bruciati

A recently pubblished book by Guido Mazzoni (I destini generali, Laterza) takes stock of the situation as regards the end of the ideologies in our age. According to the scholar, Westerners have reached an anti-tragic outcome, since there is nothing than transcends the mere satisfaction of our individual needs, coated with a veneer of tolerance that muffes internal conflicts and that exorcises external ones. Not only nothing tragic but nothing transcendent is to be found in a consumer society where the requirement of desire and the imperative to enjoy are the matrices that “mandatory consumerism” as Lacan observed. The dominant life model at the beginning of the new millennium is the least heroic, least grand yet most immanent one, although it come with a constant undertone of unease. What, then, is the function of the artist – especially the young artist – in this apparently static context? My hope is that the artist may ensure a parallel action, by developing a form of resistance to this inhomogeneous form of emptiness. I envisage the artist – as the representative of the neurotic enterprise par excellence- reconnecting to a shared future individual destinies that have been “liberated” and newly empowered.

This premise was necessary to introduce what is establishing it-self on the national level as a dynamic and innovative prize, and one particularly open to the creative drives of an essentially static society. If Art is called to interpret contemporary life with all its transformations and aporias. I believe that this challenge is all the more intriguing when it is entrusted to the new generations: the young people who can and must channel their energies towards a form of action which – if not combative and revolutionary – may at least uphold a utopian desire for change. Certainly their reflection is not based on any definitive answers: on the contrary, the attempts they make are often recklessly partial ones. In the best of cases, however, these attempts take the form of bold suggestions, This means looking forward – as is bound to be the case the artist’s gaze suggests new perspectives, a different point of view; for questioning the present means tracing a path, a new geometry, in a tireless attempt to explore all possible destinations. The Combat Prize may operate in this direction by helping identify the potentials which we should invest in and support,so as to promote cultural growth throughout the country.

The evaluation therefore, according to my own judgement criteria, concerns a budding generation that has proven capable of embarking on ambitious projects: artists who have chosen to work professionally, by pursuing unbroken and consistent, research trajectories. Among the authors whose digital portfolio has been published, in the following list i will draw attention to thise whose work i find most intriguing and relevant and who clearly show a potential for growth –  not least in view of the residences on which the Prize Combat Prize has invested so much.

In the field of painting and graphics arts, I would like to draw attention to the woks of: Kristina Alsauskaite, Nicholas Brown, Julia Marco Campmany, Roberto Carovilla, Veronica De Giovannelli Alessandro Fogo, Niklaus Manuel Gudel, Egie Karpaviciuta, Justine Light, David Mancini Zanchi, Cristiano Menchini, Dario Molinaro, Lorenzo Morri, Vincenzo Purizo, Marco Rossi, Massimo Stenta, Maddalena Tesser, Sulitane Tusha, Sally Viganò. As regards photography, my attention has been captivated by Eric Davanzo, Matthew Girola, Rachel Maistrello, Federico Morri, Alessio Zernoz, Among sculptures anf installations, the works i find most compelling are those by Paolo Brambilla, Samuel Cherubini, Silvia Giambrone, Marco Gobbi, Miz Nakaishi, Fabio Ranzolin that I think you are the most convincing evidence. Last but not least, there are the experimental efforts made with art in movement, where I have chiefly focused on the four artists: Ricky Bardy, Francesco Cardarelli, Daniel Nicolae Djarno, Roberto Fassone.


Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

President Rebaudengo

I am glad to be on the jury of the Combat Prize this year as well, together with Fabio Seahorses, Francesca Baboni, Andrea Burned, Stefano Taddei and Roberta Vattorta. The difficulties which contemporary culture is facing in today’s Italy, not least because of the country’s economic situation, limit the opportunities for young people pursuing a high-quality artistic carrer to gain visibility. The Combat Prize, which has now reached its sixth edition and registered a considerable increase in the number of participants, serves both as an important showcase and a concrete possibility to lend young people support, it is therefore a crucial event for identifying and promoting new artistic talents in Italy.

Each year, the Prize is organized with the utmost care. This year, an exhibition of the finalists’ works will be held in the Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori – in the former granaries (ex Granal) of Villa Mimbelli – and the Fortezza Vecchia in Livorno (from 27 June to 25 July 2015). The three winners will be offered a residency in Florence , Livorno or Berlin. The contest has once again proven to be an effective platform for the discovery and, especially, growth of young artists, who are invited to engage with different art scenes and with professionals in the sector.

A residence in Italy or abroad is always an important educational experience. The Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation has been promoting and supporting residence projects for several years. In particular, over the past nine years the Foundation has been organizing a residency for young foreign curators. This serves as a curatorship workshop but aslo as a way of promotion Italian artists, who are given the opportunity to make their work known trought the help of young professionals operating at an international livel. I always advise artists, and especially budding artists, to apply for a residency, since today more than ever before this represents a crucial career opportunity. I am glad to see that the mobility of young artists is increasing, as is shown by the biographical profiles of many of the Combat Prize participants.

Each year I find it interesting to analyse some of the numerical results of the contest, which give us a clear picture of the state of contemporary art in Italy – of its underlying trends, features and languages. This year too we find a good balance between men(52%) and women (48%) artists. As regards the means of expression used, painting remains the artits’ favourite medium, accounting for almost half of the works in submitted (48% of respondents), followed by photography ( 19%, an increase over last year) on a par with installations and sculptures (19% each). At the bottom of the ranking are graphics art (10%) and video, which make up only 4% of the works submitted.

These data reveal a marked rediscovery of sculpture  and installations on the part of young artists: the two media have registered the same figures as the well – established and much appreciated medium of photography. This is a very interesting finding, which reflects the most recent research being conducted on the international scene, as illustrated by the works submitted to the Venice Biennale this year. As for the fact that in 2015 too, video – a means of expression I am personally very found of – ranks at the bottom, I believe this calls for some brief considerations. There are still many video works to be admired in exhibitions and museums around the world, in particular where the element of research plays an important role in the selection of artists and artworks.

Video are instead much less common at art fairs, where the market dynamics generally lead artists to adopt media that may be more easily be enjoyed by collectors, such as painting. Regardless of the means of expression used, I believe it’s important to follow and support the artists particularly in the early stages of their careers, allowing them to freely express themselves and establish their research on solid foundations.

Now that my experience as a member of the Combat Prize jury is over, I once again wish to congratulate the organizers of the contest. I would like to thank all the artists who have submitted their works and trust that they will all continue to work with the same enthusiasm, always putting themselves to the test, aware of the fact that the artist plays an important role in our society: as person capable of examining contemporary reality depths and of presenting it from a new perspective.