Naima Morelli


It has been such a long time since I last indulged in some personal reflections on this blog, and let you readers know what’s up with my life and my different practices. I felt it was high time, so I have started writing this personal essay on the train ride from Naples to Venice, and I have finished it in my hometown Sorrento, in preparation for being back in my turf, Rome. 

The train journey from Naples to Venice was six hours, which I usually spend reading, listening to music, podcasts, and calling friends sometimes. But six hours of uninterrupted trip, crossing Italy from South to North, are a gift of sorts. You are launched at full speed in a beautiful landscape, there is movement and stillness, a precious time to gather your thoughts, in preparation for a fresh start. A time for aimless pleasure, for allowing reflections to form. What will come will be the time for activity, and both the leisure – the otium of the Romans – and the action-filled, execution part, need to be appreciated fully. If you train your sensitivity, you’ll know when and how to flow from one state to another. This is ultimately the sense I’ve been sharpening these past few months.

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In this video Indonesian artist Eddy Susanto talks about his work for his solo show in Venice. Called “Allegory of Hell, from Borobudur to Dante from July 28th to September 4th at GAD, Giudecca Art District. The exhibition was sponsored by Artsociates, and I co-curated it with Valentina Levy.

More info here (in Italian)

More info (in English)

Giudecca Art District website

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In this handout image provided by MD Beast, MDL Beast Festival - the Saudi Soundstorm has arrived, wowing over 130,000 fans on its first day on Dec. 19, 2019 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Escaping from the dark ages” is how many Saudi artists refer to the country’s emergence from a period of cultural obscurity. Following a similar strategy to neighbors such as the Emirates, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to diversify the economy which has been mostly reliant on oil and gas revenues.

Saudi’s main cities of Jeddah and Riyadh are the center of the new art scene. I wrote about it for Al-Monitor.

Here is the link to the piece

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What a pleasure to chat with Joana Alarcão from Insights of an Eco Artist podcast. The first part was released a few weeks ago, and now the second part is out!

Here is the link to the second part of the podcast

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I have been researching and writing about Indonesian contemporary art since 2012 – for almost ten years now – and it’s incredible to see always new exceptional talent emerge from this country.

Balinese artist Citra Sasmita has been on my radar as one of the most interesting emerging artists out there. Her work is visually captivating and luring, and so important in terms of bringing forth new narratives of freedom, empowerment and liberation, for women and beyond. These are the stories, the art we need.

By now, if you follow my writing, you’ll know that I’m mesmerized by works that reinterpret old mythologies in the contemporary context, delve into history by mixing high brow and low brow, eastern and western archetypes. And in that, Sasmita’s work is quite something.

I have spoken to Citra Sasmita for Singapore-based Plural art magazine.

Here is the link to the interview

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Every time I write something for the webmagazine Art a Part of Culture, it’s always like a coming home. This was one of the first magazines I started writing for, more than 10 years ago now, and the amazing team of Barbara, Isabella and Gianpaola still lovely supports my every project.

This time I got the chance to delve into the back story behind my new graphic novel “The Mighty Hour”. I explored a period in history – that of the Italy of the ’30s, where women were reclaiming room for themselves as athletes.

It’s quite interesting and timely to look at this part of women empowerment, as the Olympics just drew to a close

Here is the link to the article (in Italian)

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A steamy cup of black tea and a blank piece of paper. That’s all I need for my favourite end-of-the-year tradition. This December felt called to reflect back at 2020 already in the first half of the month – maybe because I was once again in my family home because of a new lockdown. I started by sorting the pictures for my other blog Gioco di Donne. The photos are testimonies to all the beauty experienced in this year, as of course the ugly parts are seldom captured on camera. Though this is also how my mind works – remembering first and foremost the good – for this year in review I want to look at all the lessons, to get a clearer path for next year.

Ça va sans dire that this year was quite particular. We are all aware of the toll that the pandemic took from all of us – in Italy the situation was particularly severe, especially in the beginning. Like many others, I have spent a good part of this year indoor. The first three months quarantine which started in March, and the second “red zone” from mid-October to December, I moved back to my family home in Sorrento. It wasn’t uncomfortable as I imagined. The disappointment lasted only in the few days before making the final decision to leave my house (and life) in Rome. Back to my hometown, I quickly adapted to the new situation, and the opportunities that it brought forth. There are some things I dropped altogether, some other things I dived into.

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Since last time I have stopped to write my reflections here on my blog, the world has changed. This is something I wouldn’t ever expected to live during my lifetime, but here we are. The pandemic, the quarantine. And now slowly resurfacing from it, everything looking so different.

Back from my trip in Malaysia in early January, I had just started a personal process of moving forward. On a personal level, this consisted into re-acclimatizing myself to living alone – having recently experienced health challenges and having left my boyfriend. It consisted into learning to drive a scooter and a car, and starting to approach a new martial art called Systema, along with deepening my yoga practice I started 5-years ago.

On a professional level, the process looked like bringing to fruition my third book, a monography on a Malaysian artist I have been working with for a prestigious gallery in Southeast Asia. I have been writing with more heart and stylistic freedom that ever – slowing down consistently on the journalism to devote to the book only. And – quite crucially – I have been publishing under my own imprint “Red Naima” my “origin” graphic novels from 2009 to 2011.

But, just like everyone was stopped in their tracks by the pandemic, I was forced to go back to my hometown Sorrento, where risk was mitigated. The feeling was initially confusion. Then I went finally back in Sorrento, I was taken over by a wave of excitement for the change the unknown. Then I settled into a new routine, adjusting to the new working demands, conditions, and spaces in the house. And since Italy has started to re-opening again, I’m getting back into my regular work, treasuring the lessons and discoveries from these 50 days of stillness.

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In this article for CoBo about Art Jakarta 2019, I take a look at the most interesting artworks at the fair —with a special eye to those who are a bit under the radar.

Here is the link to the article

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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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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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Zihan Loo

At the end of 2015, I was wandering around SAM8Q looking for the proverbial exit through the gift shop — as Banksy would put it. I wanted to buy some books to bring back home with me. At the ground floor of the building there was something that appeared to be what I was looking for. Shelves of interesting books, and a few on exhibition. I was thrilled. When I walked in, something was not quite right. I asked the person at the desk: “I’m sorry, this is not the museum bookshop, it is an artwork.”

Damn! This is precisely what I’m talking about when I speak of the problem with contemporary art. The work, he explained, was done by artist Zihan Loo, and was called “Of Public Interest: The Singapore Art Museum Resource Room”. The artist moved 4,500 volumes from the Singapore Art Museum’s resource room — currently not available to public — into the space of a gallery. The public were invited to shape the collection for the duration of the exhibition from August 2015 to March 2016. The conditions were that each visitor was allowed to withdraw one book from the collection, restricting the public access to this book for the duration of the exhibition. These books were shrink-wrapped and placed in a separate area of the installation.

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