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When talking about Drive-in, one’s mind immediately goes to cinema of the 50s. But then, why not to apply the same concept to art exhibitions? This is what is happening in Rotterdam and Brescia. 

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After the pandemic, new strategies to enjoy public events that in recent months have been off limits need to be developed. Therefore, the cities of Rotterdam and Brescia both came up with an innovative idea, tailored to our current circumstances and open to all. 

From August 1st to August 23rd, two of Rotterdam's cultural icons have come together to create an unforgettable artistic experience: convention center Rotterdam Ahoy and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen are joining forces to develop a surprising exhibition of more than fifty artworks, plus installations by several invited artists. What is striking is that the exhibition is visible only from the inside of one’s car, so to avoid contact between people. 

A parallel project was created in Italy, in Brescia, where the first Drive-In exhibition was inaugurated in the large space of the Garage of the Agenzia Generali Brescia, on June 21th. The project was curated by the Associazione Bellearti and consists of a drive through artistic projects, installations, murals and large drawings. 


Mimmo Paladino, Il fischio della locomotiva (Le città invisibili), 2014. Mostra Art Drive In, courtesy the artist and BELLEARTI.


"We are living a distressing moment, that requires alternative solutions to try to return to normality," says Jolanda Jansen, general director of Rotterdam Ahoy. "It is wonderful to see how this idea came about, through creativity and determination”.

"We are extremely excited that everyone in the museum approved the project and that we were able to implement it in such a short time, thanks to the funds that were raised very quickly by foundations and sponsors," says Sjarel Ex, director of the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum. "We look forward to this exhibition which promises action and contemplation, excitement and amazement”. 

The Rotterdam exhibition Drive Thru addresses the complex relationship between man and nature. This current period is characterized by completely altered social interactions and by the surge of a new way of approaching social contexts. Conceived by Ted Noten, the exhibition therefore aims at investigating one’s relation with one’s car, the safe "glass bubble" from which to look the world. It consists of works from the Museum's collection, and of installations by contemporary artists who already work in Rotterdam and contribute to making it one of the centers of contemporary art worldwide, such as Ted Noten, Oskar Kokoschka, Bas Jan Ader, Melanie Smith, Ugo Rondinone, Wieki Somers, as well as installations by Bas Princen, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Olaf Nicolai and Marijke van Warmerdam.


Giovanni Gastel, La cena di Atene, 2020, mostra Art Drive In, courtesy the artist and BELLEARTI. Ph credits/ Studio Rapuzzi.


Contrarily, the atmosphere of Art Drive-In in Brescia is definitely underground. The exhibiting path takes place among art projects, installations, murals, large drawings with a special attention to street art. Among the artists exhibiting there are Italian and international names such as Ludovica Anversa, Stefano Arienti, Olivo Barbieri, Thomas Braida, Linda Carrara, Ambra Castagnetti, Enrico De Paris, Giovanni Gastel, Osamu Kobayashi, Davide Mancini Zanchi, Antonio Marras, Muna Mussie, Ozmo, Mimmo Paladino, Gabriele Picco, Antonio Riello and Leonardo Anker Vandal. "No specific theme has been assigned to the artists, each one of them is free to propose his or her own project", explain the organizers. "an occasion to highlight the shift between the art world as we knew it and the art world that will come. Art has antibodies in it and creativity is the greatest form of freedom: once again art knows how to (show) how the limits imposed by a crisis can be a stimulus if one is endowed with vision. A talent that artists do not lack", the director of Bellearti claimed. 

Cover image: Artist impressions Boijmans Ahoy drive-thru museum. By West8.

Written by Giulia Cami


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