Beatrice Merz, President of The Merz Foundation. Photography © Andrea Guermani
1.What is your museum about and what are its challenges?
The Merz Foundation deals with contemporary art, it was born with the idea of building a house for art. A home for artists. A place of research, study, design and sharing, and the space where the Foundation is hosted is a former thermal power plant.
Not being a space born for art, the artists invited to exhibit challenge themselves and this is also our challenge. From the courage of the artists to get involved, very particular exhibition projects are born. The Foundation wants to play its own role today, that of an energy power station of art, leaving its borders, expanding into human, cultural and geographical territories, from a simple exhibition or conservation place, it has turned into a complex creative platform.
2.What kind of remarkable digital innovation would you like to share with us? It can be online and/or in your physical space.
Innovation must not be limited to an online space, it is more a dynamic project. It is a means of experimentation and the constitutive elements of the contemporary museum are connected to its logic of openness, both outwardly and in receptive and participatory terms.
For this reason it is necessary to ask oneself and in crisis situations it is insufficient to move in terms of a cultural proposal only. We must act through a real political act. Ours is a social role. Therefore, we are reflecting on the nature of the place of culture starting not only from the possible users but from the role played by the artists themselves and their works, protagonists of the cultural space and of the civil construction project given by an institution.
3.What are the social media platforms that your museum chose for its digital presence and who are your primary target audiences?
They are the traditional platforms from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. We are also completely redesigning the website, so that it becomes not only an information point, but also a platform to eventually host interactive experimentation projects. The recipients are lovers of contemporary art or better of cultural contemporaneity, or better yet the curious.
4.If you had to keep one social media platform to reach youngsters, which one would you pick?
5.Tell us how are you facing the coronavirus emergency with the museum? What strategies are you using.
The lockdown took us in the midst of an installation of the next exhibition designed for the Foundation’s birthday. Push the Limits, is an all-female project to investigate the ability of art to constantly put itself to the limit by moving the axis of thought, perception, speech, introducing new elements into the system.
Without effort, finalisms and superstructures that are not those of contemporary art thought and creativity are told, a path to find a conscious language capable of telling the present. It’s time to ask questions, art cannot instill certainties but can help change the rhythm of the wheel.
Waiting to be able to resume the exhibition and see the works live, we will ask these artists directly in a new cycle of posts on social media that follows the online project currently underway, #FondazioneMerzRewind, a story of 15 years of exhibition activity through images and videos.
Another project is the transposition on a digital format of an already experienced event “Scusi, non capisco” (Excuse me, I don’t understand), these are direct Instagram, 8 appointments / dialogues for two between people who, admitting not to understand what they see in a museum of contemporary art, can contribute to legitimize us in the story, starting precisely from that “scusi, non capisco” that for some years has been tormenting our reflection on what art and culture mean and what it means even in times of profound dramatic and suspended crisis.
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Beatrice Merz is the President of The Merz Foundation inaugurated in Turin in 2005 as a contemporary art center. In addition to events, reviews and workshops dedicated especially to young people, the Foundation alternates exhibitions dedicated to Mario and Marisa Merz with site specific projects by national and international artists invited to confront the space that is a former Officine Lancia thermal power station of the 1930s.
The Foundation and the Archive have a scientific committee, in addition to Beatrice Merz, composed of Frances Morris (Director of the Tate Modern, London), Vicente Todolí (Artistic Advisor Hangar Bicocca, Milan), Richard Flood (Director of the special project and curator of the new large museum of contemporary art in New York) and Mariano Boggia (director of the Merz collection).
The Foundation collaborates with various cultural realities, and every two years the Mario Merz Prize has the prerogative of envying personalities in the field of contemporary art and musical composition in collaboration with Switzerland.