October 2008, INTERVIEW WITH SIMONA VENDRAME
Simona Vendrame has been the director of the Italian contemporary art magazine Tema Celeste from 2000 to 2007. I met her the first time few months before she left the magazine, in a small ground floor flat in a typical milanese palazzo, with a private court in its heart and possibly unexpected private gardens, full of past issues of the magazine. She was in the middle of a meeting but she found few minutes to talk to me. This northern woman is now starting a new adventure, from a different perspective, in the art world, always showing the same enthusiasm and energy.
First of all Simona, can you tell us a bit about your background?
I got my master degree in Law at ‘Università Statale’ in Milan but since high school I have always noticed and cultivated a strong passion towards visual arts and literature. For a while, I tried the legal profession then I "felt" that I wanted to write and deal with art…
How did you arrive to the direction of the magazine Tema Celeste?
The start was very exciting: coming from an on-line magazine to Tema Celeste within a short time, first as chief editor, then the appointment as director. The years spent driving Tema Celeste were fantastic, both because I liked very much the editing work and because I have had the luck of having with the various collaborators a relationship of great affection as well as consideration.
What about the choice of the bilingual version?
From the beginning I thought that the magazine should have an international cut, then the decision to publish in two languages (English and Italian) was "mandatory". Obviously it is important to face with the context in which it operates and then I looked carefully at the quality magazines which were published in the world, knowing that each has its own identity to maintain. Converse with what is does not mean that we approved but mutually enrich their vision of things.
Contributors are crucial too…
Regarding the choice of contributors I have always followed a very simple criterion: they have to be prepared and furnished with a strong ethic, both human and professional. I knew that what they proposed to me was the result of sincere convictions and great professionalism - the trust is a key component too especially when they had to review exhibitions, in Italy or abroad, not seen in person. The shows and events that I found important for readers were published. It happened from time to time that were presented very little publicized occasions but "serious" compared to other highly reported by the media but that (according to me) they didn’t deserve so much attention.
Your long experience as magazine director ended few months ago: have you already started to work on a specific project?
I have decided to continue my journey into the Art world by opening a gallery. Today the market is a key component of the art system, much more than just a few years ago - just think about the importance of fairs and auctions. The role of galleries has become increasingly important for the promotion of art…so I felt it was the right time to dedicate myself to this project. Being Italian and living in Milan bring me automatically to the decision of opening a space in my city.
Can you describe the space?
The gallery is located in the city centre so the space is not huge but I think it is quite suitable to host artists who express themselves in different ways and through different media. Especially it has the advantage of being easily accessible by anyone in the city. Open a gallery nowadays, especially in Italy, is undoubtedly a sort of a bet, a bet that moves me a lot. Any new project is a gamble, today in financial terms difficult for any initiative, but we must have enthusiasm and be confident, new adventures are always faced with bravery, then the results will arrive.
With what kind of artist would you prefer to work?
Unfortunately -as we know- Italian artists do not enjoy the promotion by our institutions while in other countries the situation is different, therefore it is important that at least the system of Italian galleries would promote them. Certainly my program will include both Italian artists as well as artist from all over: it would be unthinkable for me not to have this kind of international approach, as for anyone in this world. With Tema Celeste I mainly pursued a job of research and I will go on in this way with my gallery, although I really like the idea of presenting more historical works and artist from different generations. In fact for me past and present are often fictitious categories that we need to give us with the illusion that things are under our control. The problem is that we know there is a continuous stream and it is really beautiful to assist, to be witness of that dialogue between artists who have a long experience and those who have just started their journey.
Will you support the production of new works?
The gallerist in my opinion has to be different from the figure of the dealer. He/She must promote the artists and follow them in their trajectory, produce works and contribute in terms of intellectual dialogue such as the internal logic of each show. I like the idea that each show is a project I discuss with the artist and not a ready-made, a full package previously purchased. With this I do not want to say that there is something wrong in being involved only in the selling or the activity of the dealer tout court. What is important in every thing you do is -again- the seriousness and intellectual honesty.
ELEONORA CHARANS, 2 OCTOBER 2008
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief