Dialoghi. Pino Pascali e Ugo Mulas | Interview with the curator
How did the idea for the exhibition come about?
The exhibition comes to life from a personal research that I have been carrying out for some time dedicated to the style of the artists of the 1960s. Last year, in fact, I curated an exhibition dedicated to Anna Paparatti: muse, artist, cultural animator, an interesting figure that I rediscovered.
For this exhibition I got to learn about some iconographic materials related to the production of clothes and jewelry created by artists such as Jannis Kounellis and Pino Pascali and also about some interesting moments, artistic encounters and the great friendship that linked Paparatti and Pascali.
From here I began to study him and came across his famous portrait, which I discovered was part of a series of photos taken by Ugo Mulas for L'Uomo Vogue.
How did the research develop together with the Mulas archive?
I contacted the archives and began about a year-long effort to reconstruct the whole series of photos. I was interested in somehow stitching together the links of these relationships, the context, the story that had actually never been told, that is behind Pascali's portrait and the shots of artists for L'Uomo Vogue editorials.
No one had read this period by focusing on it as a particular season not only of Mulas but also of the extraordinary editorial product that was L'Uomo Vogue. The Italian magazine born in '67, which was exported all over the world, gave voice to a new image of masculinity in a revolutionary way.
The artists were the only ones who could embody this idea of masculinity outside of stereotypes and away from classic men's dress. In fact, as can be seen from the photos of Mulas' editorials, it was artists and other cultural celebrities, such as Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, who served as models and wore leather jackets, furs, or military coats.
What about the dialogue with the Pino Pascali Foundation?
I knew Rosalba Branà, director of the Foundation, with whom an exchange began that arose very spontaneously. We both understood the almost necessary importance of doing a project of this kind, to tell the story of those photos by Pascali, which are so famous that they have entered the common imagination. The idea of this project also fit perfectly with the cycle of exhibitions "Dialoghi" proposed within the Foundation's programming that puts Pascali in relationship and comparison with other artistic figures. In this case, the exhibition offers a cross-cutting look at art, photography, publishing and fashion through the encounter of the two artists.
Tell us how the exhibition project is constructed?
The exhibition sketches the historical and cultural perimeter around Pino Pascali and Ugo Mulas in an exhibition that has no real beginning and end but in which the visitor can move through the space having numerous senses of reading. One of the two rooms of the exhibition is dedicated to Mulas' series for L'Uomo Vogue with an in-depth look at the original group of portraits, which can be seen for the first time in its entirety, and where Pascali seems to interact with the work "Cavalletto" in an almost performative form.
The exhibition continues with shots recounting the moments the two met, such as the '68 Biennale with photos of the room dedicated to Pascali, two of which are unpublished, to the image of the telegram signaling abandonment of the Biennale due to student protests. The seven photos of "32 square meters of sea about" are a posthumous tribute by Mulas, important for his research on photographic time and the study of the work with respect to time, audience and space.
And now, how do fashion and art intertwine?
Today many brands are opening up more and more to collaborations with artists and female artists but this has always happened, it's not something new. I think we are increasingly returning to an idea of fusion of the arts, without separations or categories as it has been from the beginning. Already in the early ateliers of the 1950s and 1960s there were strong links between art and fashion, such as Germana Marucelli with Getulio Alviani or Emma Bini with Lucio Fontana, up to Germano Celant who invited designers and artists to intervene in art venues for the 1996 Florence Biennale dedicated to Time and Fashion.
What are the upcoming projects you have in mind also related to the Apulian territory?
I would like to work in Puglia again, involving creatives, places and spaces of the territory in inspiring and transversal projects. I believe that openness to new languages, contaminations and dialogues are increasingly interesting, as well as talking about fashion in a different way, going beyond the concept of "dress" as an object in space, but as an expression of a communication and representation system, an identity element that anticipates and tells about social, political and cultural issues, that defines and is part of an artistic and cultural context. That interests me.
Among his most recent projects: in 2019, he curated Jeff Bark's solo exhibition "Paradise Garage" at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, the American photographer's first exhibition in Italy, and the exhibition "Anton Yelchin - Provocative Beauty," in the renovated spaces of Palazzo Brancaccio in Rome. In 2020 - 21 he collaborated on the realization of the exhibition ROMAISON, dedicated to the relationship between fashion and costume, hosted in the spaces of the Ara Pacis Museum, in Rome and the realization of the performance "Embodying Pasolini" by and with Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard. In 2021 he curated the exhibition "Il Grande Gioco" dedicated to the rediscovery of Anna Paparatti, an artist and connecting figure in the Rome of the 1960s and 1970s, between art and fashion, and the exhibition "Lazio, Land of Cinema - The Land of Magic Handcraft," for the Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai. In 2022 he curated German photographer Ruediger Glatz's first Italian solo exhibition "Reflecting Pasolini": more than 60 black-and-white photographs dedicated to the great Italian intellectual, in a journey from the performance shots with Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard to an itinerary through places and inspirations, literary and cinematic. In the same year he curated in collaboration with the Ugo Mulas Archive, the exhibition "Dialogues. Pino Pascali and Ugo Mulas" for the Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali in Polignano a Mare, reconstructing through little-known series, rare vintage prints and unpublished shots, the perimeter of the encounters between the two artists in a narrative that realigns and rewires the relationships between art, fashion and publishing, through the pioneering experience of L'Uomo Vogue.
He is a regular contributor for the following publications: Vogue, Dust, L'Officiel Italia, i-D Italy and Artribune. He is a lecturer and visiting lecturer at: La Sapienza University, NABA, 24 Ore Business School, Treccani Academy.