Kim? Contemporary Art Centre
Seminar “Art of Inexperience”

On May 19 and 20, 2011, at 6 p.m. in the Kim? library a seminar about the relation between art and history – “Art of Inexperience” – will be held. Lecturer – Simone Menegoi.


Explainig his choice of the theme and also the title of this seminar, Simone Menegoi writes: “After my first talk at Kim? a person from the audience – a young Latvian scholar, Maija Rudovska – asked me an interesting question that, for lack of time and because of its complexity, I couldn’t answer: “How does recent art in Western Europe deal with the history of 20th century?” This two-day talk, taking place some months after my first visit to Riga, is an attempt at answering the question. I decided to focus on Italian art (with a couple of examples from other countries) because I am particularly familiar with it, and because it makes sense with respect to the current moment: in the last two years a lively debate about the (supposed) lack of political engagement of young Italian art sparked in my country.
I will start from an Italian artist who doesn’t belong to the latest generations, Fabio Mauri (1926-2009), projecting a short video documentation of his legendary performance Che cosa è il fascismo (“What fascism is”, 1971), a reconstruction of the Fascist ludi juveniles (youth games) in which the artist himself took part when he was a boy. I consider it a legacy, a message passed onto the younger artists. I will then introduce (with pictures, texts and a couple of videos) specific works of Francesco Arena, Rossella Biscotti, Alessandro Ceresoli, Patrizio Di Massimo, Flavio Favelli, Eva Frapiccini, Giovanni Morbin. They deal mostly with three traumatic, and partially still unresolved, pages of Italian history: the Fascist dictatorship, the colonial wars in Africa, the political terrorism of the late 1970es. My aim is not to simply present these works, but to discuss them; I will try to emphasise either their merits and their shortcomings, whenever I think there are some.
The title of the talk is an adapted version of “Letteratura dell’inesperienza. Scrivere romanzi al tempo della televisione” (“Literature of Inexperience. Writing Novels in the Television Age”), a short essay by Italian writer Antonio Scurati. It deals with the average living conditions of Western European people sheltered from “experiences” like war, famine or just scarcity of food, and with the way our daily lives are shaped not by direct experience, but by media. We are, first and foremost, spectators, even of our own lives. How can we understand the past – and especially its most tragic, traumatic events – from our privileged and, we might also say, impoverished condition? This is the basic question Antonio Scurati asks himself as a novelist. It seems to me that young Italian visual artists are dealing, each in his/her own way, but with some shared strategies, with the same question.”


The language of the seminar is English. Admission free.


Support: Embassy of Italy in Riga, airBaltic, Lux Express