Naima Morelli

Piyarat

A desire to find answers brought Thai artist Piyarat Piyapongwiwat from the luxurious Bangkok advertising offices to the factories of Myanmar. Today, she tackles socio-political themes through both her installations and video.

My interview with this wonderful artist, endowed with a quiet strenght, has been just published on CoBo.

Here is the link to the interview

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SEAPavVenice2019

Hong-Kong based website and platform for collectors CoBo Social has just published my review of the Southeast Asian Pavilions at the 2019 Venice Biennale. I looked at the different national propositions with interest and a bit of a critical eye as well.

Here is the link to the review

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Thanom

Culture360, the webmagazine of the Asia-Europe Foundation, has just published my interview with one of the most forward-thinking and controversial art critic, arts writer and artist in the Thai art scene, Thanom Chapakdee.

This article is part of the reportage Roberto D’Onorio and I conducted in Thailand at the beginning of 2019. We interviewed cultural practitioners in the Thai art scene and learned about the different practices and power structures of the Thai art system. Here is to you an authoritative voice telling his side of the story.

Here is the link to the interview

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Robert Zhao Renhui

A definition of ‘artist’ according to my arts writer friend Donato is a person that is obsessed with something. However, as soon as artists become famous, you see this obsession wearing out or being somehow forced into a structure. Whereas over the years Robert Zhao has developed a team of people collaborating with him, I’d say his obsession is always there. He’s a total nature nerd, and you can feel his genuine obsession with it, paired with a strong conceptual background, which makes him in my opinion and in that of many other art critics, an incredibly powerful artist. Where you’d expect a snobbish, intellectual figure, you meet a very nice and considerate man who is really interested in sharing his passion and his work.

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Torlarp
More from my reportage on Thai contemporary. This piece, just published by CoBo, is an interview to Chiang Mai artist Torlarp Larpjaroensook, owner of Seescape Gallery. I have really great admiration for this self-made-man, and of course self-made-artist, who is all about the community.

And as a side note, I started doing this job, arts writing, more than 10 years ago now. And yet, every time an article of mine is published, I’m still so thrilled and grateful. The interviews, the chance to ask questions, the artworks, the artists, the magazines I write for and my incredible editors, the people I met, the people I traveled with, the chance to explore the world, to learn about it through its artists, the impressions, the learning, the struggles and still being here to tell tale.

I feel incredible blessed to live this life, doing this job. Hopefully some glimmer of the bliss, both mine and the one of Torlarp’s, will transpire through the lines.

Here is the link of the interview

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Donna Ong

Part of the charm of the forest is that it is supposed to be dangerous and mysterious. In this way you can still appreciate it but in a safe way. It’s an interesting metaphor about what is happening in Singapore. In the first chapter we have already talked about the work of Donna Ong in respect to the idea of tropical nature. We looked at “The Forest Speaks Back” which explored the idea of the tropics, by conveying two different points of view: that of the colonisers, and those of natives. Donna is interested in how the narrative for nature in Singapore has changed and evolved: “I think previously there was a lot of emphasis on the Garden City, so we had tropical nature but made it into a garden. A tamed tropical garden rather than a forest.”

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Geraldine Kang

Earlier we have introduced the work of Singaporean artist and photographer Geraldine Kang. When I first came to Singapore for a month-long immersion of interviews and visits to art spaces, she was the first one among the artists I had planned to speak with. The intuition was good. Alongside allowing me to deepen my knowledge of her work, she also gave a good insight into the working conditions of the younger generation of Singaporean artists, their peculiar outlook and their experience in the art world. Geraldine was also teaching at LaSalle — we indeed meet in the school café — so she gave me a first hint of awareness of the conditions of the still-students, the yet-to-become-artists.

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talk1

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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