Art&culture

The Biennale has not stopped

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Let’s take advantage of the break before the next edition of the Biennale, which will be held in Lucca in the coming month of September 2021. Let’s tell a bit more of this unique event which, every two years, celebrates the art of papermaking with indoor and outdoor events all over the town.

taly: with its art heritage cities, its hilly landscapes, its lakes, food, and wine, so much appreciated by foreigners, as well as by Italians. Among thousands of attractions, one event is particularly fascinating: it is held in Lucca every two years.  Lucca Biennale .

It is a much-awaited event, even the inhabitants of Lucca long for it. Lucca Biennale uses the language of art to celebrate the passion for paper, and at the same time, through this humble material, it tells stories, thoughts, emotions, visions, introspections. This year, however, as we all know, things have gone differently, and in the light of the pandemic caused by Covid-19, the organizational committee of Lucca Biennale Cartasia decided to postpone the 10th edition of this event, which was to be held on 1st August 2020, to next year: it will be held from 1st August to 26th September 2021. This was not an easy decision to make, yet priority was given to the safety of all those working on this event or participate to it, whether as artists or spectators. Equally important is to ensure the integrity of the Biennale and of its numerous sections: a way to show respect for the town of Lucca, all the artists participating to the event, as well as all the audience. Taking advantage of this break, Paper Industry World, which often publishes articles on the artists of the Biennale, proposes to its readers an exclusive interview with Federica Moretti, deputy director of Lucca Biennale, to whom we asked to tell us a bit more about this event, which should be renowned worldwide. After the 10th edition, scheduled in 2021, the 11th edition will be held – as planned – in 2022, bringing back Lucca Biennale to the even-numbered years: save the date – summer 2021, to experience all together the beauty of art.

Federica Moretti, when was Lucca Biennale born, and what were its purposes?

«The idea came in 2003. The first edition of Cartasia, then called Lucca Biennale Cartasia, took place in 2004. The aim was to create an annual event, where international artists created outstanding works of art using a material – paper and cardboard – far from being considered noble in the art world. This idea originated in Lucca, and for a reason: Lucca has a long-standing tradition in the production of paper and its derivatives; indeed, the Lucca plain has become the most important paper making area in Europe. The aim was to show the potentials and versatility of this material for other purposes, other than commercial».

The idea was…

«By Emiliano Galigani, the current director of Lucca Biennale Cartasia and the Academies for Cinema and Acting, based in Lucca».

Is there an organizational committee?
Who are the members?

«The current organizational committee is made up of the director general Emiliano Galigani, the general organizer Federica Moretti, Giacomo Pecchia, curator; as the organization of the Biennale gains momentum, around twenty people come into play, as supervisors or contact persons, with whom we develop all the sections of the Biennale: Outdoor, Indoor, Performance, Architecture, Events, Labs and Workshops, Network Days, Section “Off”».

Outdoor and indoor: has it always been
like this?

«Until 2005 the Outdoor section was the star of the event, later on, the Indoor section was created, with the setting-up of one or two spaces, which could host and display many more works of art, and therefore several technical abilities, of international artists, who were starting to call themselves Paper Artists. Paper Artist. In 2010, when the event became a biennial, performance was introduced, an interesting language, but at the same time quite difficult to find. Artists often create performances using paper as a medium, but not as the star of the performance itself. Over the years, we have been noticing a change in this respect, yet we realized that vis à vis all the other sections, this is the most demanding, both in terms of research on our part, and creativity on the part of artists. In 2014 we created the Ne.d – the Network Days – meetings, conferences, roundtables, where speakers – curators, artists, university professors, agents, gallery owners, directors of events, museums, art critics – share their views on topical issues. These include defining what Paper art exactly is, which techniques are used to process paper, art-related education, financing related to the world of art, and so on. Social, artistic, and cultural topics in general, but also economic topics, which are food for thought, or give answers to some questions that have to do with the period we are living in».

Which themes have you chosen over the last few years?

«The theme is paramount, in that it represents a forecast, a sensation of what may occur from the moment it is chosen, to the days in which the Biennale will be set-up. This helps artists create projects that are indeed the expression of their thoughts or points of view on the reality of modern life.

Starting from next edition, the theme of the Biennale 2021 is “Fear and Desire”, one of the themes we believe proved to be particularly suitable to represent the period we are living in; in 2018 we chose Chaos and Silence; in 2016 Borders and Perspectives; in 2014 Liquid Identities. All these themes triggered such interesting comparisons of ideas, that the audience, while visiting the exhibitions, connected what they saw to personal emotions or events, with no need to read the captions or the explanations of the works of art. This has an enormous value to us».

Is the jury always the same? Who are its members?

«It depends, there are no rules in this respect. The committee decides on the jury based on the collaborations and the trust that exists from a professional point of view, as well as the capacity to share common values. At present, the jury of the Outdoor section, in charge of selecting the monumental works that will then be created in Lucca one month before the inauguration, is made up by the artistic director of Outdoor Nicolas Bertoux, the international sculptor Cynthia Sah, architect Giuseppe De Leo, the vice-president of the Association of Architects, Planners, Landscape Designers, and Preservers of the Lucca province Giulia Bertolucci, the director of the Biennale Emiliano Galigani, and the general organizer Federica Moretti».

What are the most important rules artists are to comply with?

«Probably we could summarize it all in 3 major rules.

The first one is “paper is the star”, so everything that is conceived or displayed must be paper-based, and this requires creativity and inventiveness; the second is “stick to the theme”, every artist must think about the theme of the edition underway as a fil rouge between his/her work and the final exhibition; the third rule, in case of artists hosted as “resident” for a month, is to view this experience not as a mere competition, but as a way to compare their own ideas and learn or transfer techniques and knowledge in the field of paper art and paper processing. They are supposed to learn one from the other, and from our staff, to be open-minded and not think they need no help, because processing working with paper on a monumental scale is no easy task ».

What works are appreciated the most by visitors?

«This is a very complex question. In our opinion, all artists selected, both indoor and outdoor,  are the result of an evaluation which implies a greater appreciation as compared to the works we do not choose, but if we were to make a comparison with the audience appreciation, I could mention Liminal Space by Manuela Granziol (2018 Outdoor), Palma by Paola Margherita (2018 indoor), Hoodie by Michael Stutz (2016 Outdoor), Chris Ghilmour (2016 Indoor), Kataphraktos by Kamila Karst (2014 Outdoor), Vally Nomidou (2014 Indoor), Bucaneve by Mykl Wells (2012 Outdoor)».

Which countries do the artists come from, and what is their average age?

«Artists come from all over the world, over the last few years we were the focus of greater attention on the part of Asian artists, also thanks to the focus on the ‘guest’ country, which in 2018 was China, and in 2020/21 is Japan. The average age of the artists is between 27 and 60».

Are they professional or “amateurs”?

«As for the Outdoor, Indoor, and Performance sectors, we are talking about professionals. The fun labs or the Section Off, instead, were created with the aim to open the doors to non-professionals who work with paper and create works worth displaying. In this case we are talking about emerging artists, students of the Academies of Fine Arts, or amateurs».

You cooperate with schools of design, paper mills, associations…who are the stakeholders?

«We cooperate a lot with schools, universities and companies, to mention just a few: Ds Smith, Fosber, Gambini SpA, Pieretti, or Paper & People, which will present the incredible variety of paper that is used in the world of graphics and design. 

During each edition we get in touch with many companies and associations that are interested in the paper sector or have paper as their core business. Small companies processing waste paper to create new products with an artisanal flare, design companies – such as Caporaso – that combine cardboard with sustainable ideas, or bigger businesses, which manufacture machineries to produce or process paper and cardboard, paper mills, which normally pay a lot of attention not only to products, but also to sustainability».

Which countries do spectators come from? What about the turn-out of the last few years?

«As for the outdoor exhibition, the number of visitors amounts to 100,000 during the Biennale days, then the works continue to be displayed in spaces open to the public, within the walls of Lucca, but we are not able to make a reliable estimate of the exact number of visitors. As for the indoor exhibitions, we usually have around 20,000 visitors. While foreigners were the great majority at the beginning – from America, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Germany – last year we recorded a welcome reversal of this trend, with almost 50% of Italian visitors».

How do you give information on the exhibition on the mass media abroad?

«The Biennale starts a communication campaign more than one year in advance, on the international mass media, to promote the outdoor competition, and the brand, as a consequence, this ensures good coverage also in those countries where communication is more difficult, such as China, where Google is off-limits. We are also starting to receive a good feedback from Eastern countries; we noted that their artistic proposals have been increasing in the last few years».

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