6 questions to…Alberta Romano
1 March 2023
by Alessandra Lanza, aka @ale_lanza
Alberta Romano is an art historian and curator of contemporary art, she is 31 years old and has been living and working in Lisbon for almost 4 years, where she curates the exhibition program of the Kunsthalle Lissabon, one of the most interesting non-profit art institutions on the European scene.
If you hadn’t been a curator what would you have been doing/what would you be doing today, and why?
In a parallel universe today I would certainly work in Rai (italian public television, ndr) , ideally for Blob throughout the year and for Techetechete’ during the summer. I would be an attentive probe of the Rai display cases, who, deep down in my heart, would like to switch to Mediaset to dive headlong into the Fininvest archives as well. The why is simple. I have always viscerally loved the generalist television that raised me, but until a few years ago I was never taken seriously when I spoke about it, to date, going back I would most likely also transform this other passion into work.
What is art for you?
For me, art is knowing how to express important concepts for the development of the society in which we live in an intelligent, sagacious and obviously enjoyable way. For the work I do I tend to deal more with visual art (painting, sculpture, video, installations, etc.), but without a shadow of a doubt art can also be a song that reaches the public thanks to a motif that is easy to remember and which, listening after listening, leads you to reflect on important issues through the words that make up the text. Sometimes visual art requires a little more concentration and knowledge, but this is not because contemporary art is necessarily more complex than a songwriter’s text, on the contrary, they can often deal with similar themes, but art does it with a language whose history you need to know and against which, on the other hand, over the years derision has been more easily encouraged than a serious study of its facets.
What is the exhibition/review that you have curated that best represents your way of “taking care” of art?
Taking care of the success of an exhibition and/or artistic project is something that, most of the time, coincides with making available to the artist everything that will make him feel at ease. I can cite a fairly recent example which is that of Tamara MacArthur’s personal exhibition that we hosted in the Kunsthalle Lissabon in September 2022. The artist’s work has always focused on the construction of dreamlike scenarios, made with papier-mâché, wood and other very simple materials , which, however, in his hands, become refuges that the artist inhabits during his performances. In Kunsthalle Lissabon Tamara decided to build a life-size papier-mâché mountain scenery that the public would also be able to inhabit. It took 4 weeks to do it, during which my colleagues and I made all our time available to Tamara, evaluating together with the artist all the structural solutions to ensure that such an imposing and at the same time fragile installation could accommodate a large flow of people. But “taking care” in those weeks also coincided with relaxing lunches and relaxing walks during which to chat about this and that with Tamara and take a break from such an immersive installation. The amazement and almost childish emotion that filled the eyes of the public when he was in front of the large installation by Tamara MacArthur was the demonstration that only great satisfaction can arise from a relaxed and serene atmosphere.
What city is Lisbon for you, and has working abroad changed your view of your work and art?
Lisbon is a peaceful city that has taught me the power of calm and rest. When I worked in Milan I never had this privilege. Here I learned to appreciate the best aspects of calm, namely those that allow me to be more serene and more productive when it needs to be. However, living abroad has also given me one of the saddest realizations that a person in love with the culture of their country can have. Today I am quite sure, in fact, that if I decide to return to Italy tomorrow I would not find a job anywhere that, at only 31 years of age, guarantees me a very decent salary, almost entirely paid by the Italian Ministry of Culture, which allows me to choose the artists to work with and that it all happen in an established non-profit institution.
A film, an exhibition, a book, any work of ingenuity that has inspired you lately and that you recommend (and why)?
As a book I will never stop recommending “The Art of Joy” by Goliarda Sapienza. If they included it in school reading, we’d have a better country.
Instead, as an exhibition, I would recommend a visit to the Kunsthal Ghent in Belgium. More than a simple exhibition, it is an experiment, inspired by the writings of the designer and educator Prem Krishnamurthy which takes the form of an endless exhibition, the Endless Exhibition in fact, and which is based on a simple principle “starting today, every work, art fair and exhibition set up must be permanent, remaining on display forever”.
To give shape to this idea, the Kunsthal Ghent has decided to create a permanent museum for the city in which each new work commissioned by the institution will add to the previous one, thus encouraging the development of a strong spirit of adaptability in the artists and curators. , but also and above all a greater awareness of the overproduction that nowadays seems to have also affected the cultural sector. The tangible overlapping of the works, in fact, favors a natural slowdown in the productive frenzy and guarantees, at the same time, a more aware, more pleasant work and less subject to the stress caused by frenetic hyper-production.
Last question: a forecast for the future?
I’m truly a landslide with forecasts, of any kind. Maybe because I like to believe in my little utopias too much, that in the end I can’t concentrate on the most plausible predictions. For example, I knew that Mengoni would win the 73rd Festival della Canzone Italiana (Sanremo), but I couldn’t help but fantasize about how nice it would be if the majority of Italians loved Colapesce and Di Martino as much as I did. In short, I get lost in fantasies and I’m not good at making predictions.