What is your background and what kind of route have you taken in this area?

I studied at university in Economics for the Arts, Culture and Communication, combining scientific and humanistic disciplines. After graduating, I attended the first edition of Campo, an annual programme for curators promoted by Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Mine is a hybrid path that has developed between independent curatorship, production and coordination of exhibitions and projects in contact with artists, foundations, galleries and art fairs.

What were the key encounters and experiences in Italy and abroad?

One of my first experiences in the art world was in the French Galleria Continua, a former paper mill of over 10,000 square metres in the Parisian countryside. The spaces were so vast that we used scooters to move from one room to another within the exhibitions. Even though many years have passed, I remember well the feeling of astonishment and wonder I had when I saw works by Chen Zhen, Mona Hatoum, Yona Friedman and other artists inhabiting those spaces that were so lived in and full of stories, an explosive combination that exponentially multiplied the possible levels of interpretation.

It was a sort of baptism of complexity that had a significant influence on my curatorial research, leading me to carry out exhibitions and projects in unconventional and informative exhibition spaces, such as the old port of Bari or the warehouse of a company specialising in the transport of works of art.

From a professional point of view, I learned a lot during the years I spent in the gallery with Franco Noero and Pierpaolo Falone in Turin, where I was lucky enough to work with artists such as Simon Starling, Mike Nelson, Lara Favaretto, Jason Dodge, Darren Bader and many others, following projects and productions both in the gallery and in museums and institutions. I am still in contact with some of them.

Another important milestone in my career was three years at the helm of the curatorial board of The Others, an experience that gave me the opportunity to travel extensively and get in touch with the art scene in different cities in Europe and around the world. 

3_The Malphighian Layer_exhibition view_CAR DRDE Bologna
The Malphighian Layer - exhibition view, curated by Bruno Barsanti and Gabriele Tosi, CAR DRDE, Bologna, 2018 - Courtesy CAR DRDE
What kind of reading have you done over the years?

I am quite chaotic in my reading and it often happens that I have several books open at the same time, not to mention the number of open panels on the browser of my smartphone. There is no one genre I prefer, over the years I have alternated between philosophical essays and books of classic and contemporary literature, poetry, history books and art criticism. Among my recent readings are Byung-Chul Han and Mariangela Gualtieri. A book that has made a mark on me is The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus, a book I have finally managed to read is Franco Cassano's Il pensiero meridiano. At the moment I am reading Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks and The Songs of Maldoror by Lautréamont. Who knows when I will finish them.

How do you come to develop your curatorial research?

More than following precise rules, I try to put into practice an attitude, a mental and spiritual disposition that can take different forms and paths depending on the circumstances. In many cases the relationship with the exhibition or project space plays a central role in my practice, guiding choices and design decisions. Through dialogue with artists, authors and curators I am interested in questioning the mechanisms and linguistic and behavioural codes that direct perception and inform aesthetic experience. Many of the projects I have curated can be said to be reactions to a given space or environment.

What have been the most significant exhibitions you have seen recently?

In the last month there have been solo shows of Giulio Scalisi at Case Chiuse, Anicka Yi at Hangar Bicocca and Raymond Depardon at the Milan Triennale. I would also like to add Jon Rafman at Ordet; I still have a vivid memory of his exhibition at the Fondazione Fotografia in Modena, which left me with a profound sense of unease. I would like to close with two wonderful, though less recent, exhibitions: Alberto Savinio at the Museo Nazionale Romano at Palazzo Altemps in Rome and Nam June Paik at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Distiller - Exhibition view, Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio, Bologna, 2017 curated by Gabriele Tosi, Bruno Barsanti - Courtesy Gelateria Sogni di Ghiaccio
FOKU - Mari-Leen Kiipli, Passiflora, Video installation, The Others, Torino, 2017 - Courtesy The Others
Which artists do you think should be followed?

Those who are wary of repeating winning formulas, regardless of age, gender and geographical origin.

The war has always played a watershed role in the destiny of art, do you think that these dramatic events can influence or generate in some way an ideological feeling and struggle also within the artistic community?

The terms 'ideological' and 'struggle' in relation to art frighten me. I believe that every situation should be analysed in its complexity to avoid exploitation, especially at a dramatic time like the one we are currently experiencing. 

You are from Apulia, and as an independent curator you collaborate with many contemporary art institutions and galleries both in Italy and abroad. At present, on an institutional level, how is the situation of Apulia in the contemporary art system? The strengths and weaknesses of a region that continues to be provincial in this field, despite its efforts. 

I feel a very strong bond with my homeland, even though I have not lived there permanently for more than 20 years. In recent years I have seen the growth of many cultural initiatives, some of which are worthy of attention, but there is still a lack of serious project planning at an institutional level, which would allow the construction of long-term programmes based on certain resources, with a view to the stable involvement of the community, and not only the artistic community.

My feeling is that at a structural level there has been no substantial progress since the first debates on Bari's museum centre more than ten years ago. There is no shortage of initiatives, but it is essential that the spontaneous, grassroots work of many cultural operators be supported by an institutional system that can enhance it, strengthening the whole sector and averting the risk of a new cultural colonisation in parallel with the almost uncontrolled growth of tourism in Puglia.

What have you been working on recently?

From December 2021 I will be the director of the Fondazione Elpis, an organisation active throughout Italy through the project 'Una Boccata d'Arte', which promotes residencies and interventions by artists in small villages with less than 5,000 inhabitants, one for each region. The foundation will also have an exhibition space that will open in Milan in the autumn.
I am also working with Gabriele Tosi on a group exhibition - Adesso no - which will open on 5 May at the Manifattura Tabacchi in Florence.

Saverio Todaro - La croce dei mari, Bari, 2011, ideato da Bruno Barsanti e Fabrizio Bellomo - Courtesy Amarelarte


AUDITORIUM is a sound and textual archive that investigates the encounter of curatorial practices with the interdisciplinary dynamics of contemporary society. A symbolic space of encounter and confrontation that welcomes a plurality of thoughts, words, voices and actions. AUDITORIUM is a column edited by Giuseppe Arnesano for the Salgemma magazine..

written by 
Giuseppe Amedeo Arnesano

Bruno Barsanti (Bari, 1982) Curator and producer, he has collaborated with institutions, galleries and art fairs in Italy and abroad, working in close contact with artists of different ages and geographical origins. He has curated exhibitions and projects in galleries, non-profit spaces and public places, often dealing with unconventional exhibition spaces. Since December 2021 he is the director of Fondazione Elpis.
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