Gigiotto del Vecchio talks about his project and introduces some of the artists he is working with such as Michael Dean, Jan Peter Hammer, Natalie Häusler, and Zin Taylor.
Gigiotto del Vecchio runs gallery Supportico Lopez (Berlin) with Stefania Palumbo
Conversation transcription below
All images included in the video have been kindly provided by contemporary art gallery Supportico Lopez through their website. Included is also the video shooting of Zin Taylor’s installation at Supportico Lopez’s booth during the Miart Art Fair, Milan, April 4-7 2013.
Tiziana Casapietra: Would you like to introduce your gallery? In particular, why did you decide to leave Italy and move to Berlin?
Gigiotto del Vecchio: Supportico Lopez as a project on contemporary art started Naples in 2003. I left Milan to move to Naples, a city that, at that time, was facing a very exciting and positive cultural life.
Supportico Lopez started as a curatorial project held in our home and done in collaboration with artists Marcello Simeone and Mariangela Levita. Then the project came to an end. At that time I was also working with public institutions. I co-curated Gordon Matta-Clark exhibition at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. The Naples stopover of the exhibition Utopia Station, section of the 2003 Venice Biennale. During these collaborations I met Stefania (Palumbo) who was working at Sant’Elmo Museum in Naples. Stefania was aware of my experience with Supportico Lopez and we decided to give the project a new chance. The idea was not to have a gallery yet. The project did not mean to become a gallery yet. Supportico Lopez was still a space for planning projects and exploring our different international art experiences. In the meantime, Berlusconism was spreading all over Italy, Naples was imploding. The wave of initial enthusiasm for various reasons faded away. We started to feel uncomfortable in Naples. We were looking for something else. We are sure that wherever we go, we keep strongly connected to our territory, a territory that cannot be shaken off so easily. Thus, moved by our little unhappiness, and mental distance from the territory, we chose Berlin. The city was still quite cheap at that time and this allowed us more possibilities such as running an art space and working on projects. Plus many artists are living here. We approached the city with very naive and preconceived beliefs; we imagined a city located in the North of Europe with public funds more readily available, etc. Instead, we quickly understood that this was the poorest and most suffering cities of Germany, with its heart located mainly in the eastern side of the city. Thus we easily understood that the only solution was to struggle and work hard in order to make a living through our work.
We have never been strict in distinguishing between being gallerists or something else. We have many important examples of people running galleries and working as curators, or curators working as gallerists. The mixing up of roles leads to a sort of positive confusion. Once in Berlin we opened our first space in Kreuzberg, a district characterized by a lively social life and with a strong musical identity. This is a border area with a very strong political identity. In the 80s many squatters used to live here, and this gave a specific identity to the district. And we were coming from Naples, and we wanted to live surrounded by music, sound, Turkish people, and most of all surrounded by many artists. Our space was located in a basement and had a strong identity: it was halfway between a gallery and a club. After 3 years this space was sold to a new owner. This is something happening everywhere in Berlin now. And we had to go away. This is when new opportunities came up for us. The most interesting one was proposed by Douglas Gordon, the owner of the space where we have our gallery now. Douglas Gordon took over this old factory where he has located his studio. We are based here as well as gallery Sommor & Kohl. Kasper König has his studio here too. This represented for us the beginning of a new phase.
TC: Can you tell us something about your program and the artists you are working with?
GdV: We are interested in those art experiences that include words, the possibility to use the language and the written language and compare it to the visual dimension of art. This is the aspect that links together most of the artists we are working with. We started the activity here in Berlin with David Wojnarowicz. He was an anarchist working within the field of poetry, and poetry writing. Another important project, done in collaboration with the Morra Foundation, Naples, was the one on artist Henri Chopin a key figure of concrete and sound poetry. Although well-known and very important, he is still new and original. He never liked to be at the service of the art system. And then Jan Peter Hammer and his work on the “Anarchist Banker” based on story of the same name by Fernando Pessoa and adapted to the present socio-economic situation. The experience of sculptor Michael Dean whose work is primarily connected either to poetic and theatrical writings and to calligraphic and typographic writings. His work is merely the attempt to turn this texts and words into sculpture. Michael Dean’s sculpture is text; somehow his concrete sculptures are talking to us. And then Zin Taylor, the exhibition we have now on, Zin can be considered a writer. His exhibitions come out from texts linked to a narrative dimension which is typical of long stories. His exhibitions are a sort of the visual alter ego of the written text. Natalie Häusler is also a poet. With her poetry gains a visual dimension.
At the same time we do not want to be limited to a specific genre. But certainly we feel a necessity: Stefania and I, affirm that poetry and poetical elements can have a political function. Nowadays learning to articulate our impressions, can serve to increase the ability to think better and differently. The emotional and narrative aspect of the creative production is thus something we are very much interested in.
Interview by Tiziana Casapietra