Naima Morelli

On being an intentional curator

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“Lorcan O’ Neill is a very open minded gallerist and he welcomes people with initiative. If you want I can give you his contacts and you guys can propose a project to him.”
It was my friend Rbb to speak. Stout, tanned, nervous, short hair and a striped shit – pretty much a young Picasso – he was now working at Lorcan O’ Neill, one of the most prestigious galleries in Rome. He was a good artist and a generous person. He talked really fast, with a cadence making his words sound like there were trundling down a long staircase. Maybe if he would have born in another century, land in a different art scene, he wouldn’t just have helped set up Giorgio Griffa’s show at Lorcan – he would have actually had his own art exhibition there.

I didn’t meet him in a long time. It’s difficult to catch up with friends when you are constantly crashing at people places in Rome in order to avoid paying a rent – a situation that was familiar to both of us. He confesses that he had three pair of keys and he was going crazy after more than a year hopping from a place to another. I told him I knew what he meant.

“So… do you want the personal email of Lorcan? I know you guys are really great curators” Rbb repeated, looking at me and then looking at R’O, my dear friend curator and long-time Rbb confessor.
R’O looked at him with hesitation. Although R’O was ten years older that Rbb, it didn’t show at all, he looked ageless. R’O had gentle, aristocratic and affectionate manners and he was very articulated in his speech. For me, he was the quintessence of the Italian curator and art critic, incredibly knowledgeable and inquisitive.

“What are you talking about, Rbb? You don’t even know what I’m doing!” I told him loudly, unleashing my Neapolitan accent
“Of course I know ciccia! I know everything” said Rbb almost offended
“How do you know?”
“I just know!”
“Well, thank you, but if you knew what I’m working on, you would also also that Lorcan O’ Neill world is very far from the research on South-East Asia I’m doing at the moment!”
Too late. Rbb was already distracted greeting someone and he didn’t pay attention.

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“I don’t think Lorcan would be interested in a project from young curators” R’O pitch in skeptical, “It doesn’t look like his target”
“Well, here’s the thing; the other day Tico-Tico came to me and asked how could he talk with Locarn O’Neill…”
“That guy has no shame!” blurted R’O
“Well, I gave Lorcan’s contact to him, they met at an opening, and in a few days the gallerist is going to visit Tico-Tico’s studio. As I said, Lorcan is always interested in young people!”
“But what I’m supposed to think, if you give me such example! And why did you give Tico-Tico the contact in the first place?”
“Why should I not? He’s not my competitor. It will be up to Lorcan to decide if he’s worth it or not!”
“Sure, but by introducing Tico-Tico to Lorcan you vouch for Tico-Tico!”
“I don’t vouch for him, I just shared a contact I have, that’s all!”
“Well, be aware that what you share qualifies you!”
“Anyways, R’O, think about it. Naima, you think about it too. I’m always here for you guys.”

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On the scooter back home, R’O was assaulted by doubts, which he frantically expressed to me. Should he contact Lorcan? And with what project? Maybe he should have thought of something specifically to him. But he had already all these other things going on already!

“Be intentional with what you are doing R’O. Is Lorcan O’Neill on your path?”
“Not really. But I’m worried I’d miss a train!”
“There is not just one train R’O. You don’t want to catch random trains just because they look they are going to nicer places. It’s all so speculative as well. You were not even thinking of Lorcan O’Neill before Rbb put that though into your mind. And you know why you were not thinking about him? Because he’s not relevant for the path you’re on now. He works with established artists, you work with emerging artists. The curatorial coordinates you’ve built for yourself don’t necessarily apply with, say, Richard Long, isn’t? That’s not your jam, you have never been interested in secondary market!”
“But what if Lorcan has also a platform for emerging artists?”
“Well, then go and find out! But until then, don’t bother!” I concluded. R’O though about it a few seconds.

“Yes, that sounds really assertive Naima, but…” he looked on the side with a tormented stare. R’O was probably the most sensitive person I knew. Sensitive to the point that couldn’t even hear a Lana Del Rey song in the supermarket without having tears pouring from his eyes.
“Be intentional R’O. Don’t let yourself be at the mercy of whatever faraway possibility comes into your place. Know what you want. Know where you want to go and draw your map to go there.”
As I was speaking to him, I realized I was also speaking with myself.
“You’re a great gift my friend!” he sighted, hugging me.
“You too!” I said, while he was wearing his helmet.
“I’ll sleep on it” and then he disappeared in the dark on his scooter.

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Img 1, 2, 3, 4 : Lorcan O’Neill gallery space view, Giorgio Griffa, Danza di Neuroni