The history of performance in Italy is inextricably linked to Bologna. The legendary International Performance Week of 1977, the “performance theatre” of the 1980s together with the multi-media experiences of the 1990s and new millennium have consolidated an uninterrupted link between the city and the live arts. Arte Fiera makes this heritage its own with the decision to entrust the fair’s 2019 performance programme to the Bolognese curator Silvia Fanti, internationally acclaimed for her work connecting with the visual arts, theatre and dance.

Silvia Fanti has devised a programme of performance activities for Arte Fiera 2019, held in, around and outside the fairgrounds. The aim was twofold: to create a physical link with the fair and the city through itineraries, for spectators - and also a virtual link through the social media; and to create within the framework of a big commercial spaces where objects and services are not on sale but rather follow a different, paradoxical economic logic based on the exchange of words and ideas.

Projects by:

Working today with the contemporary means creating occasions, contexts and moments that show not so much “what art is” but “what art does”. The question is therefore how to respond to the proposal to make Performance part of an art fair without turning it into a merely decorative or, at worst, inappropriate accessory.

Oplà slips performance into a functional context, creating opportunities to be an active part of an artwork. The performances are not individual shows lasting a set time, but rather activities proper: a series of microsystems involving creation, work and service. For three consecutive days, Oplà will lay on a series of critically acute but generously open-minded performing activities that anyone can be a part of.

The decision to involve Italian artists – all of them prominent figures – is in line with the curatorial approach of this edition of Arte Fiera. Each of the four ingenious performance projects reveals an ability to analyze and respond to the specific context of an art fair. Each Activity triggers a cascade of participative relations, proving that cross-pollination and mutual interaction are still possible in Italy today and that aesthetics can be paired with ethics and economy of means with willful waste.

Silvia Fanti