Artist Marcella Vanzo holds a workshop to reconnect with our roots

On the occasion of the artist’s new masterclass at Fondazione Pini we asked her a couple of questions.

Marcella Vanzo, Limbo, 2006. © Marcella Vanzo. Courtesy of the artist. Marcella Vanzo

Investigating the concept of roots in an artistic, poetic, and social sense is the aim of a new masterclass with artist Marcella Vanzo, promoted by the Fondazione Adolfo Pini in Milan.

The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly uprooted our everyday life, our habits, our perception of the world. Understanding what our roots are and where they can take us is a fundamental investigation to measure the present, and focus on the future.

A portrait of the artist during the performance “Corpo a Corpo” in 2018. © Yunes Calore, Courtesy of the artist.

This new masterclass, led by artist Marcella Vanzo, explores the concept of roots in its artistic, poetic, and social way, though three events. The first meeting will be held in Vanzo’s studio, a place where, through an examination of her works, the true anatomy of the artist will be carried out in search of the roots of her practice.

The artist will be available to participants to discover together the roots of her works and the sensitive link between nature and culture. The other two meetings, that will be held at the Fondazione Pini, are dedicated to the search for the expression of one’s own and others’ roots, through dialogue, confrontation, and creation. The second meeting will investigate the poetic instinct as the transformative basis of reality. The third meeting will focus on education as a root, starting from the question: how and where were we educated?

Marcella Vanzo’s installation “The Root Book,” 2021, © Marcella Vanzo Studio. Courtesy of the artist.

The project is part of Casa dei Saperi, a programme that Fondazione Adolfo Pini offers to young students. Conceived in 2018 and launched in February 2019, the 2019-2020 edition was dedicated to the theme of “New Utopias,” this year the initiative returns with a new programme designed to explore the theme of roots. For this occasion, we asked Marcella Vanzo a few questions.

The main area of investigation in the workshop will be the concept of roots. Why are they central, and what are your roots?

Roots are central because they give us grounding, or a relation to space, to sprint into the future, or time. They clearly support us. My roots are in myself my family, my friends, my community at large and largely in nature.

The meetings will also deal with the notion of education, can you tell us about yours, where and what did you study?

I had the chance to spend time with Vito Acconci in his studio to write my thesis for the Brera Academy. I toured the whole of Ghana at the age of 21 after a degree in Anthropology at UCL, London, looking for manufacts to sell along with an exhibition of Fante flags. Shortly after I was teaching theatre to kids in prison in Milan for a few months. I am the mother of two fantastic children, and as soon as I knew how to write, I started writing poetry. Bit of a mix of institutional and self education.

Over the past few weeks, here in Milan, Robert Wilson – at the Meet, during the Meet the Media Guru events – said that in schools you don’t learn anything. Riccardo Muti – during the presentation of his Opera Academy that will take place in December at the Fondazione Prada – said that often in important schools, students don’t learn the most basic things. First of all, do you agree with these observations? Also, why is education important? Is it necessarily linked to schools, academies, or universities? And what do you hope to convey to those who will attend the events?

What I believe is that a school does not make you an artist.

Also from what I gather by having two kids in state primary and secondary school, is that it is a matter of mere chance whether you have a good education or not. State schools are being slaughtered, the result [is] under our eyes every day. It has an ugly feeling of war and resistance. People are exhausted.

On the other side education is becoming more and more of a business and that is really dangerous.

Education is important from day one, it is not a matter of graduate or postgraduate studies.

What I try to stimulate in people around me is focus, attention and precision. I like to ask questions, to use language carefully, to think together. To engage in a mixture of visual and spoken and performed. To gather meaning, to make sense.

Participation in the workshop is free of charge and applications must be submitted by Sunday 31 October to eventi@fondazionepini.it.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is Executive Editor of Milano Art Guide. He writes a column on photography for Exibart and previously he reported for Zero.eu from 2016 to 2020. He is the creator and co-curator of the best-selling “The Colouring Book” published by 24OreCultura in 2020.