Naima Morelli



Culture360 – the webmagazine of the Asia-Europe Foundation – has just published my piece on independent curators bridging Asia and Europe (and also other parts of the world) through contemporary art.

I have met these three incredible women in several occasions; they are doing a very important and necessary work, filling gaps in understanding across cultures. Their practice and professional rigour inspires me greatly.

Here is the link to the piece

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I love the end of the year so much. Looking back and taking stock of what worked and what didn’t, because acknowledging that even what apparently didn’t worked is the seed for something even bigger to happen. And also, recognizing that nothing is ever wasted, and everything will converge eventually, because it’s all you, all one person is one universe following his own personal trail of crumbs.

In the past few months I haven’t posted on the blog my regular rants/reflections on my journey through life. This is because I realized that instead of being focused on the present and what was at hand, I was rehearsing the “narrative of my life” a little too often. Too much of looking back and planning ahead, instead of sitting down, spot the priorities and get down to them. Which resulted a dispersive mindset and lazy habits. And now that is the right time to reflect, look back and appreciate, it just feels so much better. A few lessons have unfolded. And while of course everything is unfolding all the time, I feel that right now I can see a motif appearing, whereas in the past few months it was more the phase where everything was colliding before taking a recognizable form.

Enough with vagueness! Let’s get down to the specifics; one thing I learned this is that when you ask your friends for feedback in a particular area of your life they know you well for, they will always tell you that “in the past you were so much better at this.” Of course you know that this is not true. There were movements where you showed up with your higher self in that sector. One particularly focused training session, a period where you were really pushing with work, another week where you realized a set of very good comic book pages. Growth is never even. You’ll have moments where you are quietly learning in some areas and it doesn’t show, and moments where it finally come up. It’s a gift to have friends to keep you in check, but most importantly you have to regularly practice, day in day out.

On the edge of 2017 I can see how all the expressions of my being are starting to come together, and hopefully in 2018 they will find a way to coexist harmoniously as an even flow. Ok, let’s be more specific. I guess I’ll start by looking at the year through the lens of my different practices.

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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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CoBo has just published my interview with British/Indonesian artist Sinta Tantra, who I visited at her studio at the British School in Rome, where she is doing a residency. As always, every interview is a chance to learn something and often times the words of artists resonate powerfully with my own life.

Here is the link to the interview

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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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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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Cobo has just published my interview with Singaporean artist Jeremy Sharma, titled: “Artists As The Arbiter of Knowledge in The Information Era”.

We did the interview in Rome, in a cafè near Via di Ripetta, after a bit of walking around that side of the Eternal City, and talked about his residency at the Stelva Foundation, in Desenzano del Garda, and his art practice in general.

Here is the link to the interview

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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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On December 6 I took part in a panel discussion with artist Myriam Laplante and art critic Gabriele Perretta about the work “Il Cantico dei Cantici” (Ha Shir Ha Shirim Shelì) by artist Isabella Tirelli, which was screened at the MACRO, the Contemporary Art Museum of Rome.

Isabella Tirelli is a multimedia artist working with painting, sculpture, performance and video. Her art deals with spirituality and is rich in symbolism and references to alchemy.  The work she screened at MACRO is a free adaptation of the Song of Songs from the Bible (a short trailer is available here). The video was realized in the span of four years and composed by more than 1200 digital paintings.

In the discussion I talked of Isabella Tirelli’s work in an international framework. I traced the artistic lineage of “Il Cantico dei Cantici”, and compared it to the oeuvre of artists such as Australian Bindi Cole and Marco Brambilla (the author of Kanye West’s “Power” video). Here are some pictures from the discussion.

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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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Since I have started writing about contemporary art for magazine – around 2007 – I have collected a number of interviews. Some have been published straight away, others have been used later on as sources for articles or in books. Then there are all the others that have never been published, and are part of my personal archive, informing every word I write.

Every now and then, I decide to pull an interview out of the archive, like this one with Richard Streitmatter-Tran, who I have met and interviewed first in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo, then in Rome, where he was attending a sculpture workshop. The new art magazine I’m collaborating with, D/Railed by Deianira Tolema, was the perfect home for the piece.

Here’s the link to the interview

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