BienNolo makes a big return with its second edition

The lively district of NoLo will open up to the arts thanks to a distributed art event that aims to bring contemporary art to areas on the outskirts of the city.

The work by Daniel Gonzales part of this year's edition of BienNolo. Fabrizio Stipari

The neighborhood north of Piazzale Loreto in Milan, the area that includes Via Padova and Viale Monza and all the dense network of streets in between, is known as NoLo. From 1–10 October, the trendy district will open up to the arts thanks to the second edition of BienNolo, a distributed art event with several venues that aims to bring contemporary art to areas on the outskirts of the city.

Conceived by actor and writer Carlo Vanoni, and orchestrated with the ArtCityLab Association – which includes curators Gianni Romano, Rossana Ciocca, and Matteo Bergamini – this year BienNoLo almost doubles the number of artists presented in the 2019 edition, spanning four generations. The title of this year’s exhibition is “NUNC EST BIBENDUM, NUNC PEDE LIBERO PULSANDA TELLUS,” a Latin phrase meaning “Now we must drink, now we must make the earth resound with our free foot.

Gabriele Picco’s Nuvola (2005), on view in the garden of H+ headquarters, one of the main venue of BienNolo 2021. Photo by Fabrizio Stipari.

Taken from a verse by Horace, the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus, and written to celebrate the death of Cleopatra, the verse seems more relevant than ever, especially in the desire to rediscover sociality, the desire to share, to unite, and to party (why not?) after the long months of the pandemic.

Fifty-three artists, including well-known names such as Ettore Favini, Loris Cecchini, Rä di Martino, Giuseppe Stampone, Claudia Losi, and Maria Papadimitriou, are exhibited in 10 locations. A long itinerary worth seeing over several days, not least because, from this year, the event is no longer limited to the north-eastern part of the city but expands to the Isola district. From posters to warehouses, passing by newsstands, balconies, and garages, the second edition of BienNoLo is off to a great start while maintaining its focus and heart within the area in which it was born.

During the lengthy press presentation, it was impossible not to appreciate the richness and variety of the proposal. From the Angelo bench created by Ugo La Pietra in 1993 for mothers with their children to allow them to play safely in parks, installed at the entrance to the H+ headquarters (via Soperga 41) – where there is also a new work by Ettore Favini, a self-portrait with oranges that will vanish on October 10 when a bartender will make cocktails with the fruits that make up the installation. Up to the basement of Nolo91 (Viale Monza 91), a new exhibition space in the city, where you can find the video installations Poor Poor Jerry by Rä di Martino, Sonia Andresano’s Ritenta sarai più fortunato projected onto televisions made of plaster, and the works of three very young artists selected during an open call launched by the curators in July: Alessandro D’Isanto, David Michael Fayek, and Alessio Barchitta.

The event is not limited to the exhibition alone, a rich calendar of collateral events and performances will animate the entire duration of the show to deepen and explore the work of the selected artists and the neighborhood, in a sort of situationist drift that leads to encounter the works almost by chance, from abandoned billboards to bars overlooking the Martesana canal. Arm yourself with patience, the map, created by Untitled Association, and set out to discover this lively area of the city through the extraordinary work of the selected artists.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.