Swatch Art Peace Hotel and the importance of art community

Swatch Art Peace Hotel and the importance of art community

Tommaso Berra · 2 months ago · Art

There is an electrostatic air in the Roman conference room of MAXXI – Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo. Two women have that unique look of someone who is responsible for making everything go according to plan, a photographer pushes me as if I didn’t exist. I sit in the chair knowing what I’m waiting for, while all around me impatience manifests itself with all kinds of tics. At that point I look up and see Sebastião Salgado come in, along with the reverential acoustic nothingness that generates the presence of one of the most important photographers of the last 50 years. Salgado talks about the new exhibition set up at MAXXI, dedicated to the collection of shots taken by him in Amazonia over the last 9 years. Immediately afterwards, the floor was given over to the presentation of the other major event of the day: the inauguration of the exhibition marking the tenth anniversary of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai.

Carlo Giordanetti, CEO of the residence for artists, tells us about hotel birth in 2011, since then the project launched by the brand has hosted 400 artists from 54 countries around the world. Before getting up, and being overwhelmed again by the same agitated photographer, I try to think about what it would be like to live in a community of artists, from all over the world, and absorb information and stimuli as quickly as babies do. It clears up for me the meaning of some of the main concepts of Swatch’s philosophy, such as transversality, freedom of expression and the involvement a watch brand can have with the world.

WELCOME! 10 anni di Swatch Art Peace Hotel

On the occasion of the anniversary, inside the MAXXI, Swatch Art Peace Hotel has set up an exhibition in Rome (scheduled until October 24) with works created by 19 artists, all resident in the Shanghai residence. I go up the stairs of the building designed by Zaha Hadid and an open, fluid and pathless space opens up, which has only a hypothetical beginning but invites to pass freely among the works, in continuity with the climate of total sharing that the artists live inside the residence.
I take a few steps and I don’t feel like entering the building overlooking the Bund in Shanghai, but rather I feel like entering a place without a geographical identity. I could be in Switzerland, or in China, while poems in Italian and miniatures of American metropolitan landscapes appear on the canvases.
“I wander through neighborhoods with my camera or phone, documenting through photos and videos. I also try to join the community in some way, personal experiences are part of my work,” artist Tracey Snelling explains to me as I gaze at the neon in her work. Snelling’s “lost year motel” is a microcosmic reduction of how the artist has experienced the stimuli of a vibrant city, a “sci-fi skyline, with light shows every night, the chaos of thousands of tourists, advertisements on the streets and the hustle and bustle of city traffic. It’s so nice to experience the city and then come back to a quiet space.”
Representing time has always been a challenge for artists, I smile thinking about what “lost time” really means to an artist, while all around me are displayed the objects that mark time, the Swatch watches made by the residency artists over the past 10 years. 

I recognize that I lack a bit of vision to understand time not only as a measurement of hours, minutes and seconds. It is Luca Bray, an Italian artist at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel who invites me to think about time from another point of view. “It is the value and power of transforming a moment, this I recognize in Swatch, a watch not a watch, because I have always considered it more as a work of art.” As I listen to Bray, I surrender to the idea that I don’t have the artist’s vision.
From the writing in Italian and Spanish, almost carved like rock engravings, I can imagine what multiculturalism means for the works produced in the residence. Anita Gratzer, who stops, enchanted by her clothes, made using Swiss maps and Japanese court documents, gives me confirmation. “From my residencies in China, Korea or Japan I gather inspiration that I transform in places like Switzerland, Finland or Italy, for example, into new art forms. Always keeping in mind how cultures have influenced and promoted each other over the centuries.”
Anita Gratzer’s wearable sculptures, echoing the artist’s definition to me, “transcend traditional models. They become personal refuges of knowledge, symbols of inner emigration, or representations of the struggle against colonialism.” That seems clearer to me.

The messages of political and environmental activism in WELCOME! 10 Years of Swatch Art Peace Hotel I also capture them in the work of Miguel Moreno Mateos, perhaps the most scenic of the entire exhibition. With the Spanish artist we confront the autonomy of nature. The glass jars connected through tubes are the decomposition of the biological balance of nature, of its self-sufficiency and of the harmful role of man, who “chooses to intervene to save nature when the answer sometimes would be to do nothing. Nature does not need us, but we can be part of it, become a fundamental element of this balance”.

I stay a little longer inside the MAXXI hall, with my head up, looking at hanging works and colorful straps that trace the sincere and virtuous history of a “curious, open and international” brand, as Tracey Snelling describes it. I continue to look up, in the direction of a work composed of sheets of paper, decorated with the motifs of Shanghai manhole covers. Around me the visitors start to leave and I don’t notice. My glance upwards intercepts silk sheets on which photographs of Chinese textile factories are printed, like a reportage of one of the most important industries in China. I continue to look up and when I lower my eyes I am alone, no one is left, only many open conversations and infinite worlds to discover, and it seems to me that I too am inside my room in Shanghai.

Swatch Art Peace Hotel and the importance of art community
Swatch Art Peace Hotel and the importance of art community
Swatch Art Peace Hotel and the importance of art community
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MIRO: a window to the world by Jacopo Di Cera

MIRO: a window to the world by Jacopo Di Cera

Chiara Sabella · 2 weeks ago · Art, Photography

When we think of a trip we usually imagine a combination of novelty and adventure that pauses our routine. MIRO, the new photomaterial project by photographer Jacopo Di Cera, offers us a different kind of journey. The destination is already predetermined, the route is known and obligatory, but the road is no less significant: it is the daily journey of the commuter.

For ten years, Jacopo Di Cera’s adventure has taken place in the same location, on the same Milan-Rome Frecciarossa train, with his gaze fixed on the same window that the artist incorporates into his photographic work. The result is a collection of twenty train windows that capture the amazement in the monotony of the kilometers that succeed one another. The project can be seen until November 21 at Paratissima in Turin and from November 17 to 21 in the capital, for Roma Arte in Nuvola.

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Un post condiviso da jacopo di cera (@jacopodicera)

Each shot marks a stage, an unrepeatable moment of light, colors and subjects that present themselves to the viewer, the commuter, from an apparently anonymous window on the world, like the compartment of a train we usually take.
In Jacopo Di Cera’s shots, the extraordinary and the everyday seem to be sides of the same coin. With a photomateric style, the artist starts from the physical and narrative properties of the photographic support and launches himself into challenges that become works to “contemplate closely, touch, listen and smell”. A research that gives body to the soul of the image to transport us, with humanity and delicacy, in the story it tells.

Italy running on the railway tracks shows itself in all its unpredictable beauty, along a route that we no longer call a journey. In front of an “outside” that evolves with the seasons, we sense the importance of those hours and feel the journey as the photographer means it: an intimate experience where we can grow and rediscover ourselves, thanks to the world that surrounds us.

In his artistic journey, the photographer lets us know the thousand shades that this word takes on, from the mythological journey to the tourist one, up to the journey of the migrant. This time, he starts from the routine of a “monotonous” working life to reflect on the places that we frequent every day without really living. A station, a ticket, a train taken thousands of times lose the charm of the first time, are not able to excite a distracted glance.

“But it’s not like that, the experience is there, waiting for you, outside the window, far from any digital screen, ready to be lived”. By putting us in front of the same window, Jacopo Di Cera appeals to the curiosity and amazement that are within us and asks for an active gaze, to go beyond the banality of everyday life and rediscover its beauty, “to go out of oneself to find oneself in a different way”.

MIRO: a window to the world by Jacopo Di Cera
MIRO: a window to the world by Jacopo Di Cera
MIRO: a window to the world by Jacopo Di Cera
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Zerocalcare and 4 other Italian cartoonists to discover and rediscover

Zerocalcare and 4 other Italian cartoonists to discover and rediscover

Andrea Tuzio · 2 weeks ago · Art

Chances are, even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve come across at least one scene or frame from “Strappare lungo i bordi”, Zerocalcare‘s new Netflix series – animated by Florence-based DogHead Animation – released November 17.

The impact of the series has been literally deflagrating, a huge success that has led the first Italian animated production for Netflix, to become the most viewed series in Italy on the American streaming platform. 
The motivations and explanations behind this incredible boom are simple: to address deep and important issues through the universal key of irony and with a direct and simple language – despite the Roman dialect and the arrogance of some passages – able to reach everyone and that is for everyone. 
A perfect balance between laughter, sharp points of reflection and profound moments able to make us clench our stomachs to the point of tears.
6 episodes of 20 minutes each that take us on a personal journey but that affects us all, in which each of us can identify and identifies, as in an automatic reaction of connection with the characters.

“Strappare lungo i bordi” is a small masterpiece of Italian animation that talks about disorientation, paranoia, feelings, hypochondria, love, loneliness and death. Zerocalcare deals with all this marasmus of human emotions in his own way, the way we started to know thanks to his most famous comics such as Kobane Calling, La profezia dell’armadillo, and many others, in addition to his already established fame on the web, this last aspect explains very well the current phenomenology of the cartoonist from Rebibbia. The meeting with the general public, however – before these Netflix series – came thanks to his participation as an “almost” regular guest on Diego Bianchi’s show Propaganda Live on LA7, where Zerocalcare shared his Rebibbia Quarantine, a mini-series in which Michele Rech – this is his real name – described his personal lockdown invading, even in that case, all our bulletin boards and feeds. 
Landing on Netflix Zerocalcare has made the definite leap into the mainstream, which is not a bad thing eh you mean, it has only given the opportunity for those who were far from the world in which Michele Rech lives and moves and that tells his alter ego comics through his adventures, to immerse themselves in a new and unknown world but that he immediately felt his own. 

This landing and the consequent success of Zerocalcare also gives us the chance to discover and rediscover those Italian cartoonists who, for one reason or another, are little known to the general public who don’t read comics but who loved “Strappare lungo i bordi”.

The first to mention is certainly Gianni Pacinotti, aka Gipi.
Cartoonist, illustrator and director, Gipi’s work is a synthesis between adventure and realism that ranges between the news and personal experience. He is not a very prolific author but he asserts himself very quickly thanks to his drawings and his bitter and at the same time touching poetics often linked to existential malaise. His 2013 comic Unastoria is the first graphic novel to enter the twelve finalists of the 2014 Premio Strega. 

Next is Leo Ortolani
The father of Rat-Man, with his unique and peculiar brilliant style, makes fun of contemporary society through the typical stereotypes of superheroes. 
Rat-man is in fact an atypical and tragicomic superhero, short and clumsy who spends his days eating and lazing around rather than training. Hypodotised, with a bad smell and without any superpowers, Rat-Man lacks intelligence, physical strength and common sense but manages to exploit the bad luck that haunts him in his favour but above all our superhero does not give up.
Of this iconic comic book was also made an animated series, personally supervised by Ortolani, aired by RAI, consisting of 52 episodes of 13 minutes each.

Mattia Labadessa is another one that if you don’t know you must do everything to catch up.
Cartoonist of absolute talent, the twenty-eight year old Neapolitan is an illustrator and graphic designer as well as the father of a character-bird protagonist of simple and crude situations where dominates the anguish typical of our everyday life related to personal vicissitudes that each of us faces, all accompanied by a devastating humor. His books, Le cose così, Mezza fetta di limone, Bernardino Cavallino and Piccolo are real literary cases thanks to the success of public and critics. 

We close with the young Jessica Cioffi, aka Loputyn.
Illustrator and cartoonist with a crystal clear talent, Loputyn stands out for her delicate and soft style and for her mysterious, dreamlike and disturbing drawings.
Her work is a novelty in the Italian comics scene, especially in the world of fantasy and horror. An absolute pearl.

Zerocalcare and 4 other Italian cartoonists to discover and rediscover
Zerocalcare and 4 other Italian cartoonists to discover and rediscover
Zerocalcare and 4 other Italian cartoonists to discover and rediscover
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Being a newborn in the pandemic according to Pia Bramley

Being a newborn in the pandemic according to Pia Bramley

Tommaso Berra · 1 week ago · Art

White sheets in which only a thin line shapes the forms of simple, ordinary characters, intent on common gestures, hurried and pure. The English illustrator Pia Bramley creates drawings and engravings of daily rituals, vignettes without filters or pictorial complications, as in the case of the works collected in the latest book “Pandemic Baby: Becoming a Parent in Lockdown“. The illustrated volume (available here) deals with the fluctuating period of the pandemic through the eyes of a newborn who slowly discovers the world, sitting comfortably in his mother’s arms or looking enchanted outside a window.
Pia Bramley’s book is a testimony to the discovery of a new world, inhabited by adults wearing masks who are unaware of anything strange in the eyes of the child. This unawareness is represented through childish gestures such as rebelling against the mother or playing with cutlery, while everything is seen through the eyes of a parent.

Being a newborn in the pandemic according to Pia Bramley
Being a newborn in the pandemic according to Pia Bramley
Being a newborn in the pandemic according to Pia Bramley
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Michelin star awarded dishes that look like works of art

Michelin star awarded dishes that look like works of art

Tommaso Berra · 1 week ago · Art

On the evening of Tuesday, November 23rd, all the Michelin stars of 2022, the greatest international recognition in the world of catering, were announced for the first time in live streaming.
The 67th edition has awarded 378 restaurants, 56 only in Lombardy (the region with the highest number of stars), 36 are the restaurants introduced for the first time in the elite of Michelin stars, 15 instead have not confirmed the high standards required by the guide established by the French company.
Among these standards there is certainly the taste and respect for raw materials and sustainability of cooking, but also an aesthetic component which must have the dishes once presented on the table. Scrolling through the menus and the sites of the restaurants included in the 2022 guide it is possible to see how the technique and creativity of the chefs leads to create real works of art. The profile of the dish becomes the frame of small masterpieces of color and texture.

Pastas, meats, fish and sauces look like they were laid by painters on ceramic canvases. Dishes look like monochromes by Kazimir Malevič as in the case of “The five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in different texture and temperatures” by Massimo Bottura, or wonderful expressionist palettes as in the dessert “Pannacotta Matisse” by chef Enrico Crippa.
The search for balance, be it chromatic or taste, the contrasts of textures and the union between craftsmanship and abstract concepts is what brings cuisine and painting closer together. The only real luck is that the works of art of the Michelin Guide can be eaten.

Check out the full list of starred restaurants for 2022 HERE.

Michelin star awarded dishes that look like works of art
Michelin star awarded dishes that look like works of art
Michelin star awarded dishes that look like works of art
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