1) PINA PICCOLO. Can you please explain how the idea to reclaim an abandoned industrial facility for artistic use came about in this specific instance? It is a common practice in many parts of the world, especially those where de-industrialization is taking place (Europe, North America, Australia). How does your project differ from those of other young artists reclaiming industrial spaces?
MARCELLA MAGALETTI. Atelier Montez’ motto is: “We regenerate space to be shared by inhabiting it, bringing gradual and pondered benefits to the environment, culture, society and the economy.”
The Atelier was founded as a project by artist Gio Montez, who together with Giacomo Capogrossi and architect Francesco Perri, reclaimed the urban space of a former car repair shop that had been abandoned after a fire and transformed it into a productive and welcoming structure, a factory for contemporary art. .
The work undertaken by Gio Montez, Giacomo Capogrossi and architect Francesco Perri to regenerate the abandoned industrial space had an initial stage that lasted three years in which the local community was called on to participate in the planning, thus including them in the space sharing process even in that phase.
These years of exploratory work entailing both physical and intellectual work aimed at analyzing and improving the site led us to formulate a precise method of action, as well as a poetics and a ‘fruition algorithm’ to be implemented in a space that hadn’t been regenerated yet.
This method determines our artistic operation, helps quantify the benefits we contribute, and generates our discourse, which can be summarize in the following three points:
1) Regenerate the identified space: usability based on compliance with safety standards. A space must first of all be usable, built according to standards, safe and accessible. It must reflect minimum standards so that the structure itself does not constitute a hindrance or a danger for those who inhabit it.
2) Sharing the regenerated space: inhabiting it. We define ‘inhabiting’ as a circular action repeated habitually over time, which generates and accumulates value as a pole of attraction, a place of interest, as though it were a centripetal force that generates a center, i.e., an accumulation of value that crystallizes into a unified modality of fruition, in a productive function”. The use destination of a regenerated space is therefore a “workshop for contemporary craft, artistic and cultural production.”
3) Quantifying the benefits: production. A well organized inhabitation/dwelling generates and accumulates value around itself. The value is manifested as its fruition and use potential, economic and social capital, services, cultural products and activities. This value must be a shared value, a benefit for the whole local community.
What differentiates us from other experiments is the ties between us and the community that surrounds us. A bond that is increasingly weakened by globalization and the development of industrial processes that characterize our contemporary society.
For us there is an integral connection with the local community and the interaction between us and the users of the facility.
2) P.P. Is it particularly difficult for young artists to emerge in Italy, a country where the youth are demographically challenged?
MM. As of today, in Italy it is practically impossible for young people to emerge. To emerge means that you have established your reputation abroad, at an international level, because remaining in Italy means to remain tied to a local setting.
At this point contemporary society is global, you have to come ton terms with that and consider the whole world your playing field, not just your country.
3. PP . I see that the idea that Atelier Montez continues to be a “factory”- fabbrica – is prominently featured in your website. Can you give us your thoughts on the importance of “making”, something in a collective setting, a concept that has a long tradition with the artist botteghe of the past but is challenged by the more solitary mode in which art is created today.
MM. The 4.0 factory model proposed by Ateleier Montez is based on the concept of use (fruibilità) rather than craft or industrial production. By use we mean an interpretive- formative- cognitive- morphogenetic process . This is the key to participation (a kind of participation where spectators become ‘users’ that is active subjects).
4. PP Can you describe how your artist residencies work? Is it difficult to reach artists internationally? What are the criteria you use in awarding residences?
MM. Our understanding and practice of artist residencies is first of all different from the common understanding of the concept both as far as modality and purpose. Our residencies are intended to be an experimental experience generating contemporary contents, different from a traditional art show which reproduces contents produced elsewhere. We do it this way to give guest artists a chance to develop their work directly onsite, each of them living approximately one month in accommodations provided by the Atelier Montez productive plant.
This approach determines a sort of ongoing/decentralized Happening, extended over time, that enables artists to present their work practically in real time, sharing their experience with the local community, ‘Inhabiting’ it to be exact, thus allowing her/him to become familiar with its historical and natural attractions, tourist accommodations and productive facilities that are available, the surrounding neighborhood and share this experience with the community they belong to.
Selection criteria depend on the project the residency refers to. For example “artMED”, the series that includes the most innovative art and culture trends in the Mediterranean area, provides for a series of productive residencies for Mediterranean artists who are invited to Rome to inhabit the territory included in our outskirts neighborhood of Pietralata in the spring period, experiencing in first person its transformation and potential gentrification process. In this case, over the years we’ll invite artists who seem interesting to us and representative of new trends of the industrial revolution that is developing right now along Mediterranean shores.
5.) PP. Are informal, international networks being created by young artists’ increased mobility and international exchanges? Does this internationalization (which has existed in the past as well in traditional artistic magnets like Paris and now Berlin, for example) result in the creation of internationalized trends?
MM. We could actually say that the opposite is true. International trends and the growing number of artists that associate in an independent manner, as well as their international mobilization, are the result of new, internationalized communication systems.
6) PP. Related to the question above, but focusing it on Italy: How does that increased mobility affect young artists from Italy who go abroad for their projects (sometimes due lack of opportunities here, sometimes to expand their horizons). Is there something that distinguishes young Italian artists who have received their early education here and are in some ways affected by the experience of having being raised here?
MM. Being that Italy is a very traditionalist country, the perception of contemporary art runs against a sensibility that is not prepared for it.
Italian artists certainly do move around easily and take with them a cultural background that is the result of a country that is still tied to its archaeological and Renaissance traditions (hence traditionalist), in spite ff the fact that many great Masters of contemporary art were born here.
7) PP. What is the distinguishing feature that makes Atelier Montez stand out in the busy Roman artistic scene?
MM. We can assert that we have no competitors because there are no other facilities that perform the same work as us, neither as far as methodology or typology is concerned.
The illusion of the MAAM (Museo dell’Altro e dell’Altrove), which recently has merged in the new management of MACRO ASILO, actually offers a simplified and crass version of the concept developed by Atelier Montez already starting from 2012. .
8) PP. How is your goal of letting many different projects share the physical space at the same time working out?Is it creating opportunities for intersections between the different arts? Please give us some examples.
Atelier Montez is a space for performance arts and is interdisciplinary in its approach, in the sense that all arts cross the boundaries of their discipline creating a hybrid language that goes across the different disciplines.
That’s what happens, for example, in our Pietralarte festival , the first performance festival in Rome, entirely devoted to performance arts.
9) PP Could you please share some images of the facilities and the art work that has been shown here over the years?
Please see the e-mail attachment with a dossier of our activities from 2012 to today.
Thank you so much for your time and information. Please feel free to contact The Dreaming Machine to let our readers know about your projects and exhibition.