There is a special emotion that anyone who has worked even just one day in the editorial office of a newspaper will remember forever. It is the joy of "closing" the issue and sending it to print, with the presumption of having summarized a world in those pages - sometimes, with a hint of healthy arrogance, the world. Knowing very well that from the next day nothing is worth more, and that we have to start over.
That emotion relives very clearly in the words of Luca Lo Pinto. Who is not a journalist, but the artistic director of MACRO, the Museum for Preventive Imagination of Rome which, since this thirty-nine-year-old cosmopolitan has collected the guide (giving it that name), it has become a sort of magazine, always the same and always different. A schedule of initiatives, exhibitions, podcasts, newsletters, talks and much more that are like the columns of a weekly magazine: retain, fascinate, mirror the public - ever younger, moreover - in a contemporary filtered by a continuity at the same time thought and improvised, often jaunty but always along the thread of coherence typical of an editorial product with a clear and strong identity.
Those who have visited the MACRO in recent months have passed by a personal exhibition of Nathalie Du Pasquier (watch here) to a lecture by Timothy Morton . She admired Fore-edge Painting, eight artists contemporary reinterpretation of the art of decorating book cutting, listened to chamber music, electronics, podcasts and listened to the museum's playlist on Spotify. But also participated in 24-hour long festivals such as that of October 23 in collaboration with Terraforma which declines in several ways "The Planet as a Festival" published by Ettore Sottsass on Casabella in 1972. A multidisciplinary adventure in which Lo Pinto also brings the experience of co-founder of an international excellence such as the Nero Editions publishing house.
"Certainly Nero's experience has influenced this editorial approach," he explains. "The basic idea was to find a key, an alternative model of a museum not only on a conceptual level, but above all in terms of space. MACRO is a dysfunctional architecture , which forces you to constantly ask yourself where you are, what connection is there between the room you are arriving from and the one you are heading to. Starting from the observation of spaces, I came to the idea of a magazine. That is, something that can be browsed through, with a series, sections and columns . The goal was to have a grid in which to improvise at the same time. To best accommodate the nature of the artists, who are not linear personalities, but in motion and unpredictable . In short, I wanted a device close to the needs of artists, but out of format . And that, fundamentally, it could give space also to music , to design and to all those disciplines that often when they enter a museum they are lost for the self-referentiality of the museum itself ".
Also device is a nice word for a museum-interface.
An exhibition must be something that lives: you see it on the last day and it is no longer the same as the opening. In general, everything is allowed in museums except improvisation, so an exhibition often ends up becoming a still life. I aspire to something else. And paradoxically, the free admission helped me in this design. One would be inclined to think: if I cannot charge, it is better to focus on a few initiatives. Instead, we have multiplied exhibitions and events, also thanks to sponsorship, addressing different audiences, especially those who don't go to a museum often or don't return until the next opening, that is, after months. At MACRO there are continually new initiatives. Just like in a magazine, in fact.
Trust seems to be the other key word: without trust, no one returns a second or third time anywhere.
That's right. One returns to MACRO with the same approach with which he buys a music magazine and then perhaps buys one percent of the records reviewed, but he knows that all the others that have been chosen by the editorial staff are of quality. In this offer, it is up to the public to find a line and a thread. Go to the museum more for an experience than for a single exhibition. They are not for vertical looks. I do not think that in other contexts, for example in the United States , there it would be the opportunity to manage a museum in this way.
A museum does not necessarily have to address/index tastes. I prefer to work on points of view: even a building, if viewed from the side, becomes a line. With the project designed for the MACRO I don't want to create a model, rather do an experiment. I must say that so far the feedback from the public, especially the young, is proving us right. We feel a particular energy. The feeling is what you perceive when you speak to the public in first person , as we do for example with the newsletter. This obviously does not mean that all museums have to give you your...
To return to the editorial metaphor, he once said that do the exhibitions is like writing and that the most exciting moment of his work is the construction. That's what an editor would say about their newspaper.
That's true. For me designing an exhibition is a form of authorial and collective writing, conceived with artists, to give them centrality and make them truly protagonists. My work makes sense and is beautiful if it adds up. I don't like working on the maquette. I prefer to stratify. This is also why I wanted to call the MACRO Museum for Preventive Imagination: it is not just a tribute to the Office for Preventive Imagination established in Rome in 1973 by Carlo Maurizio Benveduti, Tullio Catalano and Franco Falasca for an art capable of revolutionizing society, but also and above all the desire to the imagination at the center of the museum. In a historical moment in which the storytelling of art is mainly linked to the market and the value of the works, the challenge of MACRO is to work more with ideas than with money, given also the limited resources of we have.
MACRO is a public museum. Are institutions a constraint for creativity?
In this case the limits are of budget and mandate: three years in all. Limits that I knew when I participated in the announcement and that I am trying to turn positive. We have said about gratuitousness. Having three years also became a way to get involved right away: with a traditional approach, it would have taken me a year and a half just to figure out how to get started. Instead I opted for something that resembled an exhibition spanning the entire thirty-six months of the mandate and in continuous development. If it is to be a firework, then, like all fireworks it must dazzle and vanish, but leaving a memory in your retina.
What is the underground, today, seen by someone who hosts it in a public museum?
The distinction between underground and mainstream is now very thin. I believe that the real difference is in the way of embracing the former. There are those who do it in a subtle way, sweetening it. And who does it with respect. For my part, I find no difference in value between techno music, off-theater and a permanent art collection, including that of the MACRO. There is value when bridges are created between submerged languages, and it is done respecting their identity and under the right conditions.
Ph. Cover: Retrofuture, Notes for a collection. Museum for Preventive Imagination, MACRO - Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, 2021. Ph. Agnese Bedini and Melania Dalle Grave of DSL Studio.