Art & Design

Giorgio de Finis: “Art is too often exclusionary”

In 2018, when Giorgio de Finis, anthropologist, filmmaker, and artist, launched his project “Macro Asilo” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, many knew it would be a revolutionary and experiential event. Our meeting

Bettina Bush Mignanego

By Bettina Bush Mignanego30 novembre 2021

Giorgio de Finis is artistic director for Rome's MAAM - Museo dell’Altro e dell’Altrove di Metropoliz, which is the third-biggest contemporary art museum in Rome (Giorgio de Finis)

The wait did not disappoint. Over 14 months of intense work drove the project “Macro Asilo” to record 330,000 admissions, welcome 2,000 artists, 400 round tables and over 200 lectio magistrali and workshops. Events led by inclusion, respect of diversity and participation, themes that can also be found in the 2030 ONU Agenda, and which have given life to a museum like a living organism, which welcomes its guests just like kindergarten, open to all. Yet in December 2019, “Macro Asilo” closed its doors, two years early. Since then, Giorgio de Finis has been dedicating his time to other innovative projects, including the Festival delle Periferie, last May, an event organized over three days, including meetings, performances and videos in phygital mode. This festival relied on Giorgio de Finis’ Museum of the future, which can be defined as an entity that focuses on interpersonal relationships, without exclusion, for a collaboration between knowledge and fields of study, with the purpose to build a city in which it is easier to live, through art.

To understand this museum of the future idea, Giorgio de Finis accepted to answer our questions.

You refuse to be defined as a traditional museum director. Why?

Depending on opportunities, I see myself as a filmmaker, an anthropologist, an artist, but in reality, I always work on the same subject: mankind

Giorgio de Finis

Through his projects, Giorgio de Finis creates a new encounter between artists and the city, between art and society (DR)

Depending on opportunities, I see myself as a filmmaker, an anthropologist, an artist, but in reality, I always work on the same subject: mankind, who has long ago become an urban human. I define myself as an artist when I refer to the documentary film I directed in 2011, Space Metropoliz, both controversial and poetic, which tells the construction of a spaceship to bring the underpriviliged to the moon. This film was shot in the former Fiorucci de Via Prenestina sausage factory, a neighborhood in the suburbs of Rome, occupied in 2009 by about sixty families, workers, migrants, and Roma populations. An artistic project was launched following this, and in 2012 the space became the Museo dell'Altro e dell'Altrove, the MAAM, of which I am the current artistic director. My projects are as independent as those of an artist: a museum director however is part of a mechanism and follows a specific curriculum and is chosen based on a competitive examination.

A decade has passed and today the MAAM went from being a former factory, to the third contemporary art museum location in Rome, after the MAXXI and the Macro. Since September, the institution applied to become a UNESCO site. A taunt?

Over 14 months of intense work drove the project “Macro Asilo” to record 330,000 admissions, welcome 2,000 artists, 400 round tables and over 200 lectio magistrali and workshops (Agnese Samà)

Indeed. But we must also focus on its unique feature: there are over 600 artworks, and it is the first inhabited museum on the planet. It managed to bypass the system. But since 2009, the space has belonged to Salini Impregilo, and the owners asked the state to pay 26 million euros in damages to for not cleaning it, so he is still at risk. Over the years, we have involved many artists and the art naturally spread into these spaces, the objective was for the abandoned spaces to be refurbished, and to create an artistic barrier to defend the rights of people who have none.

Since 2018 and the MAAM, you accepted the title of artistic director at Macro, the Rome Contemporary Art Museum, mandated by the deputy mayor of Rome, Luca Bergamo. Did you expect this nomination?

I feel like an artist, whose role is to erase conventions, which art should always do by the way

Giorgio de Finis

No. I then imagined an artistic project as a living space, where artworks would be created rather than curated, where artists would actively collaborate together and with the public. In that sense, I feel like an artist, whose role is to erase conventions, which art should always do by the way. We opened in September 2018, by offering an artistic participation to all of those who would present an interesting project. The artists self-candidate, a way of opening the art ecosystem, too often excluding. As an anthropologist, I want art to be inclusive and participating. For the project “Macro Asilo”, everyone participated in the construction of a common art space, and the access was free. Our project did not host exhibitions, they are too dependent on galleries. Our budget did not allow it either, we only had 400,000 euros for 15 months.

You managed to have artists and cultural personalities attend, such as Pistoletto, Stefano Boeri, Massimo Cacciari, Lia Rumma, Daniel Buren. Then, in December 2019, the project “Macro Asilo” suddenly ended. What happened?

When the "Macro Asilo" project suddenly came to an end after two years, Giorgio de Finis wasted no time and started working on his new project: the Museo delle Periferie (Silvia B. Rutti)

It was a machine which was working at full speed, I should have stayed two more years, it did not happen that way. The reason was the one of an artistic director in charge, without having won any tenders. It was probably an uncomfortable project, not popular for institutions. Once the Macro ended, I worked on the new Museo delle Periferie (RIF) in the To Bella Monaca area of Rome, outside the Gran Raccordo Anulare, to study suburbs, to give dignity to the less central locations of the city and to create a fairer city, more participative and inclusive, led by the experience at the Macro. At the RIF, we occupied all the peripheries of the world, we created relationships with art, to reconnect broken pieces of third millennium cities. I am interest in giving the city back to people, in that sense I am a libertarian anarchist.

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