How to start an exhibition space? The Église Art experience

How to start an exhibition space? The Église Art experience

Laura Tota · 1 year ago · Photography

When we talk about photography professions, if we were to take a census of the activities related to this world, we would be surprised to discover how prolific the working sector linked to the images is.
Every month, we will ask professionals related to the photography world to tell us the behind the scenes of their jobs: we will discover the joys and sorrows of these contemporary professions and we will give some useful tips to those who want to get closer to this world.

For this first appointment, we asked a few questions to Iole Carollo, one of the Église Art founders, a training place dedicated to photography as well as one of the most evocative exhibition spaces not only in Palermo, but perhaps in all of Italy. As the name suggests, Église Art is in fact hosted inside a seventeenth-century church in the heart of the Kalsa of the Sicilian capital city, a space full of suggestions and specific features that influence and determine in an important way the contents hosted from time to time.

Eglise Art |

Giving birth to a space dedicated to photography means, right from the start, defining its aims: this choice, already decisive on its own, will then determine all the activities of the space itself: in the case of Église Art, what was its mission and how have the activities/purposes evolved over time?

Église is an association with social and cultural purposes, founded in 2016 by Alberto Gandolfo, Peppe Tornetta and me, while Simona Scaduto and Michele Vaccaro joined between 2019 and 2021. The initial intentions were to create a place for photography training and an exhibition space. In 2018, in conjunction with the #18Explorations project curated by Benedetta Donato, we decided that Église would become an independent space with the aim of promoting visual culture, through exhibition, training, exchange and collaboration activities with operators and professionals in the sector.

Eglise Art |

Palermo is in the Italian imagination (and I would venture to say worldwide) a crossroads of cultures, a melting pot alive of cultural instances that insist, meet and clash on a particularly complex territory. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this enterprise in such a particular city as Palermo? How important is the relationship with the territory in which you live and the other realities that deal with photography?

Palermo is a city rich in history and culture, where people of different origins have lived and have facilitated the exchange and exchange of ideas and solutions that are an added value for anyone approaching Palermo; to this is added the cost of living, still convenient, which translates into sustainable operating costs for spaces like ours.
Over the years we have observed the start of wonderful realities, such as PUSH, Minimum, Baco about Photographs, Maghweb, Booq, small publishing houses, theaters and independent spaces, often managed by artists, and, despite the few readers, libraries where various activities are organized. This aspect confirms the great cultural ferment that characterizes the city.
However, Palermo is a hard city, and this ferment is in fact linked to the growth of individual realities and individuals who live them and to the more or less good relationships that intertwine. Palermo is in fact a crossroads, there are many people who move there, there are many artists who come from all over the world, there are relationships and exchanges useful for everyone, but in the end it is almost mandatory to leave Palermo in order to grow again and again.

But as long as you decide to stay, the relationship with the territory is fundamental, I would say. The network of relationships that are intertwined is the basis of the community system, and this also applies to independent spaces, all of them, beyond the sector of interest.
It is important to expand the social and cultural fabric of reference, networking is useful for things to work, both in the strictly programmatic part and to create new possibilities for themselves.
For us networking is essential, in addition to the collaborations already started as those with Laboratorio Zen Insieme, Block Design and La Bandita, we founded an artistic district, just at the time when the pandemic broke out from Covid – 19 that has slowed and altered relationships.  KAD Kalsa Art District was founded with other independent spaces, cultural operators, artists and curators. In addition, we continue collaborations with photographers/ and, as Mimi Mollica (founder of the Photo Meet London) that for years organizes in the Valle del Belìce of photographic workshops, For 3 years at Église held one dedicated to the city with important guests such as Bruce Gilden and Amber Terranova.

Eglise Art |

Managing a space dedicated to photography is certainly a complex process and I suppose it requires constant commitment from those involved. What skills do staff need to have in order to manage a space dedicated to photography in an optimal way?

When you decide to start a space dedicated to culture, before having skills you need to have specific propensities, such as curiosity, an aptitude for research, the ability to work in a team and a strong interest in the sector in which you operate. Skills can be acquired later, but they are necessary, without forgetting that you never stop learning and that it is important to treasure the mistakes you make.
Our group has very diversified skills and interests which also depend on the individual paths, Michele comes from reportage, Simona uses photography as an artistic practice, I am an archaeologist and I am specialized in photographing works and installations, the other two members instead have unrelated jobs to photography, therefore with specific skills related to their sectors.

Being part of Église, we are also cultural operators, organizing and managing activities useful for the promotion and dissemination of culture also includes the management of project management, project production, communication, these activities must be accompanied by the analysis of the context in which it operates. You must always be up to date and able to deepen the issues you face and, therefore, to contextualize them to the time and space that you live in, seizing all the opportunities for exchange and collaboration with other professionals.

Eglise Art |

I visited Église Art on several occasions, and I must say that I was almost stunned by the beauty of this place: the possibility of recovering an almost abandoned space, of bringing it back to life and dressing it with culture and art is the dream of anyone working in this field. In addition I think that the extreme architectural complexity is a really interesting challenge for those who deal with photography and cultural planning.
How much does the space of Église affect the curatorial choices of programming, especially considering the exhibition limits and therefore how much the fact that it is not a classic gallery determines the selection of projects?

To date, the spaces of Église are the small seventeenth-century church and the Lab, immediately adjacent to the first one, and both have strong connotations. 
The Lab is in fact a small apartment, with a garden in the back, here we managed to get a space where we can accommodate photographers/ and two other shared, in which are also our open shelf library and the “fanzinoteca” of Zines Palermo, the festival dedicated to the zines of which we are co-founders with Block Design and Lino Ganci. 
The church, instead, is the place dedicated to photographic exhibitions, is a historical place, in which it is necessary to intervene with the restoration and renovation works, the temporary roof is supported by a scaffold of scaffolded tubes, The arch, which divides the main hall from the space that was just behind the altar, has a broken keystone, so it is supported by a security scaffold. The church is a fascinating place, at first glance visually tends to win over what is exposed, but the presence of the scaffolding involves a great work of curatorial and exhibition design. A place is not enough to make a cultural project special, we need a visions and a desire to experiment and this is what we have done in these years. 

Eglise Art |

Opening a photographic space is a dream for those who want to pursue their own line of research independently and develop an independent curatorial proposal. But leaving aside the variant of desire and dream and getting closer to the concreteness of reality, what are the factors to take into account when you want to open a space dedicated to photography? What are the factors that should not be underestimated and that perhaps you have underestimated?

The factors to evaluate and take into account are different, all dependent on the road you want to take, always putting yourself in a listening position and ready to change direction if necessary. 
As mentioned before, study and keeping up to date are essential factors, then you need to have patience and willpower to take a slow but functional path to growth. It is necessary to face a series of goals, some easier to achieve, so as to be able to face inevitable frustrations, others more fraught with obstacles, also knowing that many of the results you will achieve will be intangible. You have to focus on what you think is useful and stimulating, without necessarily looking at the name trend. Independent spaces are stimulating places, faithful to themselves but never equal, however they are among the most vulnerable from the economic point of view, because they do not have the economic strength useful for the continuity of planning activities. It is necessary to take into account the economic aspect, we live in a historical period in which money is useful to grow, improve, to be truly independent and, therefore, not to compromise, maintaining a strong identity: it is necessary to invest and reinvest, really, on themselves, on the group and on space.

I believe that one of the factors that is often underestimated is the impact of bureaucracy, but obviously it is applied to every sector of our country, not only in the cultural field. Another factor not to be underestimated is the passing of time: everything changes, macroeconomic factors, society, the people around you, personal and common goals, the tastes of the public and its needs. You have to have a very clear vision and a good dose of intuition to stem the changes.

Eglise Art |

Lately, we are witnessing the closure of numerous realities dedicated to art and photography. Often the cause is purely financial.
I therefore ask you: how can a space that is not aimed at selling be economically supported?

In the first years we self-financed, the situation in the long run became unsustainable, so we began to collaborate with other local realities, offering them services and collaborating on funded projects. Unity really makes strength, collaboration and sharing are very important aspects. 
We need to be responsive and find different solutions for individual projects. For some months now, we have also been working with a couple of professionals for the design and implementation of projects, as well as for participation in national and international calls.
Of course, it would be more useful the recognition by the institutions: the pandemic generated widespread discomfort, some spaces have either closed or are going to, we found ourselves discussing what to do, too: financial support would be really important, as is the case of other European countries.

How to start an exhibition space? The Église Art experience
How to start an exhibition space? The Église Art experience
How to start an exhibition space? The Église Art experience
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Ioana Maria Sisea’s Sculptural Narratives Are A Satire Of Contemporaneity

Ioana Maria Sisea’s Sculptural Narratives Are A Satire Of Contemporaneity

Giorgia Massari · 2 weeks ago · Art

Ioana Maria Sisea‘s sculptural micro-narratives draw inspiration from the history of communist Romania, interpreted by the artist in a contemporary key as a pretext for talking about a humanity at the mercy of perdition and materialism. We are talking about the sculptures part of the series The Adventures of Bear Lache and His Friends, presented by Sisea at the Rosenfeld Gallery in London last year. The small works, made of ceramic and enamel, depict bears interacting with half-naked women. The interactions are sensual, mischievous and ambiguous. The disturbing implication is most evident in the greed with which the bears look at the women. Everything is consolidated on Instagram, where the artist posts the sculptures accompanied by videos and photos that refer to contemporary events, particularly looking at Romanian society and politics, her home country. Thus satire and indignation emerge without too many masks, establishing themselves as blatant critiques of contemporaneity.

The story of Lache bear, from zoo to politics

Ioana Maria Sisea was inspired by the story of Lache bear, a bear domesticated in a zoo in Oradea, later transferred to Brasov with the intention of being hunted by former Romanian ex dictator Ceausescu to challenge Tito’s record. In fact, it all started with an analysis by the artist who was researching Ceausescu’s hunting trips. The photos captured an expanse of dead bears, one in particular had a cigarette in its mouth. Hence the parallelism between the bear and man, which finds in death – particularly in the arrangement of the piled – up corpses-a similarity that leads back to the brutality of the human being himself. In Ioana’s narrative, the bear becomes a powerful symbol of different meanings, including chaos, political corruption, and abuse of power. Ioana creates artworks that highlight these themes, including references to controversial political figures in Romanian history. The second step then comes with the bears’ interaction with the female body.

lover boy

Does women’s empowerment still have to come through men?

Ioana Maria Sisea reflects on the exploitation of the female body taking place in Romania. «For women, the use of their sexuality to achieve economic emancipation is a dance with the devil, but many take advantage of it because the rewards would otherwise be unattainable,» the artist told Contemporary Lynx, and she continues, «Sex work is probably one of the few jobs where the promise of capitalism to achieve a better lifestyle than one’s parents still remains». This is where the interaction between bear and woman that Sisea implements in her sculptures comes from, highlighting how women’s emancipation still necessarily and sadly has to come from men. Her intention is to celebrate these women by entrusting the figure of the bear – which here embodies patriarchy – with an entirely negative matrix.

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spend money make money 2
ioana maria sisea
sleeping beauty
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ioana maria sisea
ioana maria sisea
It’s your lache day
ioana maria sisea
stay focused
ioana maria sisea
lache, bear star of brasov

Courtesy Ioana Maria Sisea

Ioana Maria Sisea’s Sculptural Narratives Are A Satire Of Contemporaneity
Ioana Maria Sisea’s Sculptural Narratives Are A Satire Of Contemporaneity
Ioana Maria Sisea’s Sculptural Narratives Are A Satire Of Contemporaneity
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Vincent Mahé’s illustrations and the art of telling without words

Vincent Mahé’s illustrations and the art of telling without words

Buddy · 2 weeks ago · Art

Before being an illustrator Vincent Mahé is an observer. One of those capable of seeing things that most people miss. And then to capture those details and with sensitivity and immediate synthesis to be able to translate them into universal and delicate micro stories, discreet, languid, so intense and yet so candid.

In Smoke, the 1995 film directed by Wayne Wang, written and co-directed by Paul Auster, the protagonist Auggie Wren every morning, at eight o’clock, places his tripod and camera in front of his tobacconist in New York and takes a picture on the corner of Third Street and Seventh Avenue. A romantic and curious approach that immediately reminds me of Mahé’s work.

That’s why I can never take a vacation. I’ve got to be in my spot every morning. Every morning in the same spot at the same time – he said – It’s my project. What you’d call my life’s work.  It’s my corner, after all. It’s just one little part of the world, but things happen there, too, just like everywhere else. It’s a record of my little spot. “.

The place is the same, but each photo is different from the other. As in the illustrations of Vincent Mahé, the places are those of the cities we live, that we see every day, but the stories they host are always different.

You’ve got your bright mornings and your dark mornings. You’ve got your summer light and your autumn light. You’ve got your weekdays and your weekends. You’ve got your people in overcoats and galoshes, and you’ve got your people in shorts and T-shirts. Sometimes the same people, sometimes different ones. And sometimes the different ones become the same, and the same ones disappear. The earth revolves around the sun, and every day the light from the sun hits the earth at a different angle.

Take your time. You will never understand if you don’t try to slow down.

Vincent Mahé’s illustrations and the art of telling without words
Vincent Mahé’s illustrations and the art of telling without words
Vincent Mahé’s illustrations and the art of telling without words
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MSCHF puts 250 Picasso fakes up for sale, but one is original

MSCHF puts 250 Picasso fakes up for sale, but one is original

Giorgia Massari · 2 weeks ago · Art

Known to many for Jesus, the pair of Nike Air Max 97s customized with Jordan River water and sold for $1,425, the art-fashion collective MSCHF arrives in Los Angeles with the second act of its exhibition No More Tears, I’m Lovin’ It. Also at Perrotin‘s, first in NY and now in LA, the collective opened Art 2 a few days ago, prompting lots of comments. Starting with the invitation for the opening, an envelope from Apple with anything but real AirPods inside. The headphones looking identical to the real thing were just an edible reproduction, a small sweet snack to ease the bitterness of disappointment. Still in the wake of reproduction, the exhibition also continues consistently following the line that MSCHF has started for a few years now. After selling a Warhol original for $250 but among 999 other fakes reproduced by them, this time it is Picasso‘s turn. The collective reproduced 249 times the Le Poisson sculpture by the world-famous Spanish artist, previously buying the original that they then displayed among the fakes. So there are 250 wooden fish on display waiting to be bought, but only one person will be lucky enough to purchase the original. But the exhibition does not end there.

On display alongside this “real Picasso treasure hunt” is the 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser automobile, yet another MSCHF Drop, the eighty-fourth to be exact. It is the vehicle used to cross the country-destined Truckee, California-by thousands of drivers who could use it through duplicate keys made available by the collective. Now the relic is on display at Perrotin’s after more than a year of performance.


Also not to be missed at Perrotin’s are the much-discussed Big Red Boots that MSCHF released last year, enjoying huge success especially among influencers. This time the collective presents them in a series of six sculptures where the boots are worn by hairy legs, tracing the images spread on social in memes. Not just Picasso, not just the car and the boots. There are many provocative installations that MSCHF presents in Los Angeles, including a rotating machine that mixes Coke and Pepsi. Scroll through the carousel below to discover them all.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da MSCHF (@mschf)

Courtesy MSCHF

MSCHF puts 250 Picasso fakes up for sale, but one is original
MSCHF puts 250 Picasso fakes up for sale, but one is original
MSCHF puts 250 Picasso fakes up for sale, but one is original
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Felicia Chiao and her surreal and imaginative illustrations

Felicia Chiao and her surreal and imaginative illustrations

Giulia Guido · 2 weeks ago · Art

Pennarelli artistici, un blocco per gli schizzi e tanta fantasia, questi sono gli unici strumenti  che Felicia Chiao utilizza per realizzare le sue stupende illustrazioni. 
Felicia è nata in Texas, a Huston, durante il periodo degli studi si è trasferita in Rhode Island, dove ha studiato design, specializzandosi in design industriale e oggi vive a San Francisco. Di giorno è a tutti gli effetti una designer industriale, ma di notte e nel tempo libero si dedica completamente alla sua più grande passione, il disegno. 

Felicia Chiao disegna da sempre, fin da quando era bambina, ma la vera svolta è avvenuta quando ha cominciato a condividere i suoi lavori su Instagram e su Tumblr. In breve tempo i suoi schizzi hanno catturato l’attenzione di migliaia di persone, arrivando ad avere oltre 200 mila follower. 

Non essendo un’illustratrice di professione, Felicia è libera di disegnare liberamente ciò che le piace, senza avere restrizioni o scadenze. Le sue illustrazioni sono calme e spesso e volentieri hanno come protagonista un omino, mostrato durante diversi momenti della giornata all’interno di quella che può essere casa sua. A volte è triste, altre è felice, in alcuni casi è stanco e in altri sta aspettando solo un momento migliore, un po’ come tutti noi. 

Qui sotto trovi alcuni lavori di Felicia Chiao, ma se vuoi scoprirne di più seguila su Instagram

Felicia Chiao and her surreal and imaginative illustrations
Felicia Chiao and her surreal and imaginative illustrations
Felicia Chiao and her surreal and imaginative illustrations
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