No Time No Space the 28th edition of miart, the international modern and contemporary art fair organized by Fiera Milano, which will open its doors from 12 to 14 April (although in Milan we will talk about art at 360 degrees throughout the week).

The theme is a homage to Franco Battiato and underlines how the fair is increasingly oriented towards broadening its frontiers, or rather breaking down to explore new territories.

The host of the event has been Nicola Ricciardi for four years now. Born in Milan in 1985, former director of OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin, he was called to lead the fair in the midst of a pandemic emergency. A sort of baptism of fire passed brilliantly, thanks to a path always characterized by quality. But it is he himself who anticipates what the 2024 version of the miart will be like.

No time no space will be this year's theme, can you tell us why?

Nicola Ricciardi: "In 2021 we began a growth path which led miart to significantly increase the number of galleries present, the number of international spectators, the number of sponsors and prizes.

We have grown so much that we could no longer be contained within the exhibition pavilion and so we began to think about projects capable of invading the city but which bore the signature of miart.

And we began to expand not only geographically - no space, in fact - but also temporally, because for the first time we went beyond our traditional temporal boundary, also recovering the very first 1900s.

This chronological crossing — the no time aspect — is also a prelude to what we will build in the years to come with the new Timescape project which over a three-year period will see miart venture beyond the 20th century, reaching other eras and other contexts".

One of the new features is the Portal section, which hosts twelve galleries offering ten small exhibitions designed to discover or rediscover universes and artistic practices that are only apparently very distant: can you explain better?

Nicola Ricciardi: "This idea of going beyond our traditions, beyond our usual boundaries, led us to stimulate galleries and artists to present projects at the fair that were increasingly less conventional.

We therefore created a dialogue with two curators, Julieta González and Abaseh Mirvali, and asked them to stimulate galleries to think about artists who could build real portals towards worlds that appear very distant, but are then capable of speaking about our present and our current affairs.

The idea is to play on the concept of timelessness, of anachronism. The result is an interesting mix of artists and works that talk to us about how time is not a fixed concept but something that can expand, that can be transformed, something that can change and that is never stable, but constantly evolving. ".

Is there a protocol on how to visit the fair? Start from the Established section first, or start with the new entries... Which path would you suggest?

Nicola Ricciardi: "The route I would suggest, or rather the one that in some way has been obligatory for two years, is to cross the Emergent section first > and then move on to Established.

This is a desire that we realized two years ago and that we will continue to carry forward in the next editions: to show the youngest realities as the first vision of the fair, both to give an idea of freshness and to support them in a particularly difficult historical moment, with an extremely cautious art market.

In exchange we asked the Emergent galleries to wear "the good dress". And they did, so much so that over the last two years this section has transformed into a great success story, including commercial success.

Beyond this first section, once you enter Established, there is only one rule, "get lost". What we want is for the visitor to get lost, to let himself be guided by curiosity and instinct, and thus perhaps discover new names or rediscover dormant passions. And perhaps after having collected contemporary all your life, get closer to the modern or even the ancient, and vice versa".

Galerie Lelong, Richard Saltoun, Sperone, Fabienne Levy: what drives such important galleries to be present in Milan?

Nicola Ricciardi: "Milan is certainly a city that in recent years has shown not only that it knows how to get back up after a terrible moment like the dark years of the pandemic, but which has shown how once on its feet it already had the trained muscles to start running again quickly.

It is a city in which numerous international galleries have opened over the course of two years and a city in which many international collectors have made their home. What these subjects are looking for is contact with new realities, with the new urban but also human fabric that is transforming the city into the capital of contemporary Italian art. A process that started almost ten years ago but is only truly being completed today".

In recent times the boundary between art and design has become more blurred and even the temporal distances that separated the Art Week from the Design Week have narrowed. How much do these two worlds interact in a city like Milan? And how much more can be done to make this connection even more solid?

Nicola Ricciardi: "We cannot talk about Milan without talking about design, obviously. The roots of this city are rooted in the historical path that design has faced in throughout the 20th century and it is therefore natural that there is an affinity, as well as a temporal proximity, with the Milan Design Week.

This closeness is strongly desired because on the one hand it brings to miart a hybrid collecting which is interested in design but is also open to modern and contemporary art, and on the other because it inspires and generates productive synergies , such as the beautiful collaboration we are developing with, designed to bring design enthusiasts to discover the realities of Milanese art through a series of guides that we have built together".

There are fairs that double or even triple their locations over the years in other cities around the world (see Art Basel). If you were to ideally imagine an extension of miart in another city, what could it be?

Nicola Ricciardi: "I firmly believe that miart cannot exist without Milan. Ours is a fair extremely linked to its city, its institutions, its urban and social fabric. The formula for the success of this fair is precisely the link with what the Milanese realities are able to offer and put into play through the Milan Art Week.

This year, more than ever, the city has responded to our call to arms with projects ranging from performances to talks, from screenings to the search for interactions and extensions to different audiences.

The nice thing is being able to work not only with museums, public and private, but also for example with the cinema Anteo Palazzo del Cinema, thanks to the virtuous collaboration with Careof, rather than with BiM, the urban redevelopment project of the Bicocca district, which will host the first major monographic exhibition of the American artist David Horvitz.

The permeability of this city and the ability to absorb these cultural contents and make them our own are what differentiates us from many other fairs and what makes Milan unique".

In addition to professionally, how have these 4 years of the fair changed you on a human level?

Nicola Ricciardi: "These four years have taught me how fundamental the ability to listen is. For me it was extremely stimulating to observe the change that occurred in the relationships between the city and the fair and, even more, between the fair and the galleries.

Mutual trust was inevitably undermined by the pandemic in 2020 and we invested an enormous amount of time, attention and resources to rebuild it, through a simple principle: bringing dialogue back to the center of everything, making it the most open and transparent possible.

Personally, I felt the weight of responsibility: bringing the fair back to being first and foremost a useful platform for galleries - useful for finding new energy, new stimuli, new collectors - is essential to give them back those resources necessary to support the work of artists , without which our complex world would be even more difficult to understand and endure."

Does a fair director feel more like a manager or a curator?

Nicola Ricciardi: "In medio stat virtus. A good director must inevitably be a manager in order to be able to manage not only the needs of galleries, partners, sponsors and institutions but also to build and best manage a serious and dedicated work team.

This year I am particularly happy with the entry into the team of Flavia Lo Chiatto, who is our new manager of VIP relations, a person who is proving to be fundamental in making a further leap in quality and bringing us closer together. to the most consolidated international realities.

But at the same time, the fair director must be a curator, to build an event that is not a collage of works and practices but is always also a story to tell. We have the enviable opportunity of gathering hundreds if not thousands of works of art under one roof, and it would be reckless not to take advantage of this fortune to pique the curiosity of an ever-wider audience."

A dream you haven't yet realized for the miart?

Nicola Ricciardi: "We have made many dreams come true. From rebuilding the talk program, which this year returns to the fair thanks to a partner as far-sighted as Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milan, in managing to significantly increase the prizes and consequently the presence of museum directors and international curators at the fair.

Certainly one of the directions in which I would like to push the fair is to interact with the city by opening ourselves up more and more to projects curated by miart, as we are doing this year with the exhibition by David Horvitz at BiM in the Bicocca district of Milan. Therefore being able to present ourselves not only as capable of welcoming and managing over a century of art, but also of producing it and spreading it beyond our natural borders".