Naima Morelli


In freelance writing there is a time to sow and a time to harvest. In the past couple of months I have written a few articles that have been published all in these last few days. It always a joy to see my words in print, so if you are around Singapore grab a copy of this month’s Art Republik.

You will find a piece on two very interesting art spaces in Phnom Penh, with my interviews to the fantastic Meta Moeng and Erin Gleeson, who are both greatly contributing in animating the local art scene.

Here’s the link to the pdf version of the piece


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Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich is part of the show “Viva Arte Viva” by Christine Macel at the Venice Biennale. In this piece for CoBo – part of my report on this year’s Venice Biennale retrace the artistic vision of Pich to better understand how to look at his work in this international avenue.

Here’s the link to the piece

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One of the things that makes me happy in life are conversations with people, giving me kernels of wisdom and guidance that I can readily apply to my life and to the projects I’m bringing forward. Some of the people I talk with regularly and exchange opinions and mutual suggestions are my closest friends, Laslo, Roberto, Giovanna. Or family – my dad – though being an apprehensive dad who I know would always advise me for the safest route, or my uncle Uma Gargiulo, who I don’t see nearly as often, but every time we get to talk is a revelation; I end up walking home with a stronger sense of what I’m doing with my work and creative life.

There are all these people, and then there are the teachers. They are a different story from friends and family, because unlike them, they know me much less. Most importantly they don’t really want to enter my world, or are interested to really know my problems in depth. They rather offer their teachings, their world vision, their way of doing things, and give me feedback on how I’m doing on that path. For a chance, I have always considered a very good thing having people who are much less about understanding, thinking, talking, explaining, and much more about acting, doing, executing. You know, what makes for a prolific writer always open to doubt and reconsider the so-called “truth”, sometimes also makes for an indecisive person. To paraphrase writer Ryan Holiday: “If I was good at putting into practice stoic teaching I won’t have the need to study it. People who are already good at it just do it, they don’t need to conceptualise them and write about it.”

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Here is my piece for CoBo on the Southeast Asian Pavilions at the Venice Biennale. This piece wasn’t easy to write and I have been quite critical – something I don’t usually like to be. But this Biennale really called for criticism, the way I see it.

Here’s the link to the piece

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Derailing and getting back on track: story of my life. I’m the girl who is most fascinated and enticed by the idea of reinventing herself, of wearing new different clothes, of starting all over again as a blank slate. Thing is we are never a blank slate. And this is good in a way. My core is strong, and like Rogue from the X Men, I can absorb the powers of others, but my own personal power is in fact to absorb other people’s power. A bit of shameless pride: my superpower is imagination and the aesthetic alchemical transformation for things into beauty. It is about seeing the beautiful aspects in joy, pain, everything I decide to give my attentions to – pretty much like Rogue who absorbs the powers and memories of those who she touches.

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The webmagazine Middle East Monitor has just published my article on the controversial Walled Off Hotel by graffiti artist Banksy with the title: “Playing with sand in a sandstorm: Palestinians on Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel”. I gathered a few opinions on the subject, by three Palestinians involved in different way with art and an art blogger, then drew my conclusions:

“Banksy’s hotel provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the role of art in sensitive contexts, such as the situation in occupied Palestine. What art needs is not to be more witty or ironic. It should neither become didactic nor necessarily take sides. Artists need to have a heart and some empathy; a capacity and willingness to listen. In order to do that, though, they need to break out from the cage that is their own narcissism. This won’t make the art necessarily cooler, but it would make it more meaningful. More human, in fact.”

Here is the link to the piece

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These days life is white-hot, red-hot, glowing, incandescent. This excitement runs all over my body and my mind. It nourishes my spirit. Sometime I feel like those sparkling sticks kids hold in their hands on the first of the year. I feel empowered and harmonious. When I lose balance, I’m able to catch myself and correct course; if I happen to linger there, I try to deal with it with a stoic attitude, meaning, why let yourself be bother by something you can’t change? Or else, I try to convert the energy of rage or indignation into good energy, in the form of animated talks or laughs with friends.

This good energy runs through me while I’m heading towards the coffee shops I work at every morning. This is what was Tiffany for Holly Golightly; except that here they serve real breakfasts. I’m so revitalized getting out of the house in the fresh morning here, coasting the Aurealian walls, walking down the sunlit market of the working-class neighbourhood of Via Del Pigneto, watching kids from many different ethnicities going to school. The hurried or cheerful attitude of the mothers reminds me to the one of my own mother. I recall how was it to go to that terrible and yet so fundamental place which was school. And yet, schoolkids remind me how important is to feel to be on a learning path, and having buddies to share that experience with. I treasure that sensation that I experience elsewhere, walk in the coffee shop, order a cappuccino, and sit to do my work, an independent, solitary but beautiful adventure. Something that I have proudly built from scratches.

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I have contributed an essay titled “Rules, imagination, and magic powder” to the catalogue of the Drawing Future exhibition at CushCush Gallery in Bali. My words are in the very good company of texts by John Andrews, Mella Jaarsma and Natalie Sprite.

A few words on CushCush Gallery; this is an alternative platform for contemporary art and design in Denpasar. Suriawati Qiu and Jindee Chua have founded the gallery to share art and design with their local creative community, general public, as well as generate conversations with international artists and creative people.

Within the gallery many initiatives, the Charcoal For Children program is a social project that put together 6 working artists and children in 3 sessions, to create collaborative artworks together. As the name suggests, the yearly program focuses on Charcoal as the medium, to foster creativity amongst children. I have been honoured to have given my small contribution in the form of a write-up about creativity to such an exciting project!

Here’s the pdf version of the essay

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Asian webmagazine and collectors’ platform CoBo has just published my report from Art Stage Singapore 2017 titled “Why Having Less International Galleries at Art Stage Singapore 2017 was Actually a Good Thing”.

As the title suggests, I see the tendency to develop a “glocality” in the art market as generally positive – giving character to art fairs which would otherwise be all lookalikes. The regional features of Art Stage 2017 are far from being a directed by the organizer of Art Stage; it all depended from a series of circumstances that modified the Asian art ecosystem.

I spoke with the present and absent galleries to explain what happened.

Here’s the link to the article

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“Scholastic years” are perhaps more meaningful for many in framing seasons of life than actual “calendar years”. Summer is the great divider, and for me September has often corresponded in looking for a new house and resuming old and new plans. And yet, the end of the year is a great opportunity to stop and look back at the recent past, review one’s own narrative, look at mind-shifts, shift of priorities, meditate on lesson, remember the great moments and trying to get to know oneself better (hopefully).

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EN: Il Ramo D’Oro is a special place in Naples for artistic reflection which is truly grassroots, and for the gathering of an international art community. Upon request of Il Ramo D’Oro’s director, Vincenzo Montella, I have written an essay called “Flow and rigidity in challenging the borders” reflecting on the experience of the series of international shows Oltreconfine. This included Attualità Indonesiane which I co-curated.

The Oltreconfine book – where you can find my essay alongside the ones of authors such as Made Bayak e Judicael Ouango – is now available on Amazon.

Here the English version: Beyond-Borders: Art and Resilience in the Internet Era

ITA: Il Ramo D’Oro è un posto unico a Napoli dove sviluppare riflessioni artistiche genuine e dove coltivare una comunità artistica internazionale. Su richiesta del fondatore del Ramo D’Oro, Vincenzo Montella, ho scritto un breve saggio chiamato “Fludità e rigidità nel mettere in discussione i confini”, il quale riflette sull’esperienza della rassegna internazionale Oltreconfine. Questa ha incluso Attualità Indonesiane che ho co-curato.

Il libro di Oltreconfine, nel quale si trova il mio saggio insieme a quello di altri autori, tra cui Made Bayak e Judicael Ouango, è ora disponibile su Amazon.

Ecco la versione italiana: Oltreconfine: Arte e resilienza nell’era di internet

Qui sotto un estratto dal mio testo:

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My essay on the work of Uzbek artist Alexander Barkovsky has just been published by ENECAA, an online platform for researching, collecting and advising about Central Asian art.

I feel the work of Alexandr Barkovskiy is a great visual paradigm for whoever seeks to understand the contemporary cultural scene in Uzbekistan and Central Asia at large. Having recently exhibited at the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and Gallery Andakulovoy in Dubai, this 37-year-old artist encapsulates the key cultural transformations Uzbekistan has been undergoing in recent years.

Here is the link to the article

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