Chronicles from a
Suspended City

Italian Version

This year will certainly be a year to remember. As far as I was concerned, I never, ever, thought that it could happen. That I would not be allowed to travel to New York and London, that all my flights would be cancelled. In the twenty-four years of my coming to the U.S.A., I have never missed a single year in the Big Apple. But above all, the unbelievable postponement of the planned exhibitions—in March in New York at Dacia Gallery and in London at Camden Image Gallery. The first one, “Art and Desire”, featuring three artists, Mar Delestal, Riitta Nelimarkka and Anastasia Domingo. Both shows will be rescheduled for this Fall.

At times like this, all that we want to do is to restart our lives and continue with our projects. During the days of lockdown in Milan, I realized how important art is. It is a part of life that we cannot live without and I consider myself very lucky to have received this gift. I resumed painting on canvas, and in the middle of this urreal climate, I tried to see business shutdown more as an opportunity than a loss.

Photograph of Milan Cathedral and Piazza del Duomo.  The magnificent cathedral is in the background.  A few people are standing around, there are more pigeons on the ground than people.  There are a few poeple with masks.
“Milan Cathedral”

Meanwhile, all the shows planned for my exhibition space in Milan have suffered the effects of this planetary stoppage and have had to be postponed. “Power of Nature,” a solo exhibition by Japanese artist Yuko Shinozaki, and “Female Runes,” a solo exhibition by Norwegian artist Groan, deferred to September 2020 and, “Moments of Time,” a solo by Daria Martinoni, postponed until November 2021.

In March, perhaps a little to exorcise fear, creativity exploded on the balconies of Milan and the rest of Italy, even though I for one never understood that there was much to celebrate. The evil virus saw fit to spread from China to Italy. Who would have thought that those choirs on the balconies of the Wuhan ghost towns would also be replicated in Italy and Europe? Then on TV, the media bombardment did the rest to create nations of terrified people. We heard everything from virologists and scientists to doctors, who all contradicted each other. We heard everything and the exact opposite of everything. In short not the ideal environment to get concrete, factual understanding about what was happening.

Here in Italy they have banned autopsies for both Covid and non-Covid patients. It is as if other diseases do not exist. The virus has completely eradicated them! Irony aside, there is nothing left to do but to cry. Our doctors have done everything possible to keep the situation under control. The lockdown period in Milan was so hard that I did wonder if it was constitutional to force citizens to stay at home—treated as if we were the worst criminals. We hope that all this suffering has produced at least some beneficial results in terms of containing the contagion.

The news from abroad has not been calming and in particular the intensification of social conflicts has left us speechless. Issue are coming to a head now because the virus has laid bare many hidden problems. In this scenario, what can art do?

My industry has been significantly affected by the crisis, precisely because organizing exhibitions involves gatherings. Many galleries and art fair operators have moved events on line, although in my opinion art needs a physical presence. Art breathes and you need to be in its magnetic field to understand it. Art in the past has been subjugated by museum policy, manipulated by political propaganda, which has seen artists not so much as creators, but proponents of a journalistic, ideological art, packaged within a conceptual style. I have avoided thinking about exhibitions and the pandemic or current political issues, precisely because I have never believed in art that is mired in propaganda.

Art for me has always been about the sublimation of dreams, spiritual dimensions, as well as theatre. The great factory of dreams has always needed to be transposed and there are but a few masters who can make the everyday light transcendental.

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