Naima Morelli

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Last Friday Roberto D’Onorio and I gave a talk at UNINT Speech – a new platform for talks of the Università degli Studi Internazionali di Roma.

It was an honour to speak at this University, which is preparing the interpreters and translators of the new generation. We tried to give our fair share of contribution in proving students with our own knowledge of today’s complex and interconnected world through contemporary art.

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Adeline Kueh

“What gets measured gets managed,” wrote Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management. And the struggle of measuring what is imponderable is one of the shapes that the contrast between bureaucracy and spirit takes shape. In this context, we have seen how there are those giving breath to a life in a country which is all about achievement and “getting there”. If this attitude of bringing home results has proved successful for the city state, artists are those who need to rebalance the machine with a ghost. To give humanity to the clog.

Artist Adeline Kueh belongs to those who are able to give shape to feelings that you can’t simply calculate on a spreadsheet. Her sensitivity is attuned to the appreciation of beauty, and she finds it in the memories, in the history of people, places and objects. I meet this pretty, tiny and brisk woman in the Lasalle cafè where she works as an art educator. Every project she starts comes from a personal place, and has memories and meaning attached to it. She looks with a romantic and poetic eye at themes which can be considered quite risqué (she loves to drop a French word here and there — perhaps from her living in Canada as a young student, perhaps from her wide-ranging readings).

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PanyaProjects

 

“We see the amazing and essential potential of humanity and we work to contribute to it. I’m done fighting against. I’m up to build the world we want to see.”

Interviewing Panya Project’s founder Christian Shearer for ASEF Culture360 made me consider different possibilities for the future of our planet.

We delved into alternative living, alternative agriculture, alternative community and even alternative economy. I believe you will find it interesting as well.

Here is the link to the interview

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Nature in Singapore

The garden city utopia was conceived well before Singapore would reclaim this title for itself. The term was first created in 1898 by utopian thinker Ebenezer Howard. The concept of having housing outside the city, providing to each house its own garden, was made possible by the brand new railroad, which made transportation possible. Again, it was a way to go home, away from the industrial pollution. This idea was successfully implemented in Anglo-Saxon countries. In the US especially, this sort of nuclear family solution came to correspond with the American dream.

As we mentioned earlier, suburbia proved problematic not only on a social level. There are also other problems involving a shortage of horizontal space, and most importantly, the transportation which made possible the idea of garden city must today be reduced for environmental reasons. Today’s transportation calls for a different conception of the garden city, a garden city that is mainly vertical, and that is what has been implemented by Singapore. In its modern idea of the Garden City, Singapore wants to show that nature and business can be integrated. The western division between leisure and work doesn’t have to be so sharp. Business life doesn’t have to necessarily happen away from nature, and be balanced by it. This corresponds, on a wider scale, to the dismantling of the idea of work-life balance, as if work and life would be two separate entities. What is valid for the individual is valid also for the wider community. It is true that there is a place to sleep, a place to work, a place to relax, but we must keep in mind that in our mind and life the boundaries are not so strict as walls.

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VeniceBiennale2019
The 2019 Venice Biennale has asked artists to step into the socio-political realm, in the middle of far-right Matteo Salvini’s Italy. And they have done it, dismantling Orientalism and getting the Mediterranean closer together in the process.

My first article on this 2019 Venice Biennale has just been published by Middle East Monitor.

Here is the link to the article

 

 

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Daylight dystopia

In our worse dystopian imagination, brought to fruition by filmmakers and artists, we imagine the cities of the future being an endless continuation of buildings and city lights, from the steamy Metropolis to – moving to the ‘80s – the cities of Ghost in The Shell, or Neon Tokyo from Akira. Asian mega-cities provided a good model in this respect. The urban landscape of Blade Runner for example was inspired by a particular part of Kwaloon, also known as the Walled City. This was an area of incredible density, a human anthill, picturesque and inhuman at the same time. In 1994, Kwaloon was demolished. Visitors eager to see the ruins of this mythical place will instead find a park with gardens, floral walks, ponds and pavilions. The future was not as we imagined, if not only for the lack of flying cars which many of us lamented, but also because it doesn’t look as evil as we thought. Then came the daylight dystopia. As a child, I remember approaching this slightly less suffocating concept in the Disney PK comics. This was a superhero series of Donald Duck set in a futuristic future. In a particular episode, PK travelled to the future to find that instead of the tower he operated from – the Ducklair tower created by a tech genius – there was a garden. Our beloved flying cars came in handy in that comic in order to reach the heights of that vertical city, whose buildings have gardens on top, another idea which is being implemented in the green architectural world. An idea that has been developed by many architectural firms reimagining the future of the urban landscape as we will see. The palaces of the old city will be pillars, or comprised into other buildings, and of course we have plenty of examples of this as well. The final look of this city is a green aspirational environment which will preserve history and won’t look as dingy and ugly as we imagined dystopian cities to be.

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MoroccoEuropeAfrica

The webmagazine Middle East Monitor has just published my article “While Europe looks at Moroccan art, Moroccan art looks at Africa.” I am developing a growing interest towards this country which has such a rich and diverse culture, and can’t wait to delve deeper. So stay tuned!

Here is the link to the article

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The work of Geraldine Kang

For Geraldine Kang, art-making has the functions of helping her process her thoughts and feelings and to get herself out of her head. In the awarded series ‘In the Raw’, she depicted her family members in surreal situations dealing with nudity, aging and death. The artist defines In the Raw as a “shock treatment” to introduce her parents to her art practice, which in the beginning they didn’t understand. In an iconic picture of her series, she is in bed with her parents, just like a little child would do, but with a photographic book showing breasts. The photographs encapsulate the lack of intimacy and the difficulty of maturing and dealing with desire where you share the same living space with your family.

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Kawita
Here is a new article from my reportage in Thailand. I’m particularly fond of this interview with one of the most gentle and strong soul I have encountered in my trip. The piece has been just published by CoBo Social.

Here is the link to the interview

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How space influences the art

The visitors of the Louvre museum are often upset when they see the Monalisa for the first time. Most of them, seeing it on catalogues, posters and mugs alike, they imagine it to be much bigger. Indeed, bigger than life. In a world where art and art history is experienced through the internet and catalogues, and perhaps less in real life, the size of an artwork is something that counts when it comes to the art market, but it is not really an indicator for art critics. And yet, if we take a sociological look on art, we come to realise that the size of a work tells us volumes about the conditions in which the artist works: it informs about the modes and the values of an entire art system. As mundane as it is, practical circumstances end up weighting on the final artwork more than we would like to think. Contemporary art is seldom made in poetic studios in warehouses, although in some countries that is the norm. In many other places it is done in subscales, a bedroom in your parent’s house or in tiny rented studio-apartments.

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HDB

“Yearning is the dominant theme that runs through all of my work,” said the outstanding photographer Nguan to The Straits Times. “Singaporeans are restless by nature – we have wandering hearts. This picture describes the longing to be in a different place or time.” Nguan is probably the artist who best caught the poetic, ineffable, paster colour heat of Singapore. In his delicate photographs, depicting mundane moments, suspended in silence, he is able to capture the soft alienation of his own city.

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URBAN/NATURE

In this book, I used opposite categories not as parallel dichotomies or binaries that never touch each other, but rather as two extremes of a spectrum. This also goes for one of the core themes that many Singaporean artists measure themselves with: that of the urban space and the natural space. Again, we will examine the matter from different angles. At the level of the artwork, city and nature are themes many artists muse on. Then we will look at the space itself and the way the physical structure and size of artist studios, art spaces, galleries, houses and where they are located in the city have an effect on the art production. On top of that, we will look at the idea of nature as a way to go – quite literally – back to the roots. Indeed, the attitudes of Singaporeans towards nature and art are very similar, so it is almost inevitable to draw parallels. As something that is supposed to grow organically and spontaneously, art has always been seen as something “natural” to humans. This goes for the whole art ecosystem. Precisely an ecosystem, as we can’t help using a nature-related terminology here.

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