Home Magazine MeetMe#13 | In conversation with Roberta Tenconi

In 2015 Roberta Tenconi was invited to collaborate with Vicente Todoli and to be part of the curatorial team at Pirelli HangarBicocca. Her mention represented an important sign for the city of Milan and the art system too: it meant that something was opening up towards a new generation of curators, maybe also of artists – this is how it seemed from her first exhibition with Petrit Halilaj and the last one developed with Giorgio Andreotta Calò – and towards a new international vision, that is in line with HangarBicocca’s attitude since the beginning. Tenconi brought her personal vision, from what we could see since the beginning of her career at Castello di Rivoli and through her continuation at Fondazione Nicola Trussardi for ten years.

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In these last four years you were able to combine young Italian generation with an international art scene. After Petrit, in fact, you invited an historicized American artist as Matt Mullican. Do you think that this balance could represent a good approach for Milano?
We never ask to see an artist’s ID. Actually, what is significant for the choice of the artist is his/her research, the path and the fact that the peculiar spaces of Pirelli HangarBicocca could offer new opportunities and way to see (or reconsider) the work. The space is really unique and the fact that all the works of art have to coexist in a same environment, without any divisions, generates inevitably new ideas and opens unreleased possibilities for the artist. Then, of course, for us is also important to give space to voices that, for different reasons, did not have great recognition in Italy and, simply, to offer to the public the experience to see less-known works by these artists. So, in this way naturally there is going to be a dialogue between younger artists with well-known ones, between Italians and International. 


Petrit Halilaj Exhibition view “Space Shuttle in the Garden”, 2015
Courtesy the Artist and Pirelli HangarBicocca Photo: Agostino Osio 


Laure Prouvost, “GDM – Grand Dad’s Visitor Center”, exhibition view at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, 2016.
Courtesy of the artist and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. Photo: Agostino Osio


It is known that to work around extraordinary professionals as, in your case, Vicente Todoli, Massimiliano Gioni, or Andrea Lissoni is fundamental to evolve. It is important to learn every day. But, for sure, you have also generated a different dialogue and new ideas. How was the start with your new role at Hangar?

The beauty of this work is that you never stop to learn. Every single project, and also each artist, always bring big and new challenges. Right in this moment, for instance, I am working on a Cerith Wyn Evans exhibition and discovering the world of the Japanese Theatre Noh. For sure it has been a great luck working side by side and collaborating with great professionals and in various contexts – I am referring, for instance, to the Berlin Biennale period, or to the one in Venice, but also to smaller Institutions or Associations where the work was multitasking – but I believe that the even more important destiny was about the trust and the chance to be always an active part of discussions. At Pirelli HangarBicocca I brought all my experiences, but it also was the first time where I had a chance to curate a large scale project independently. And I have to say, as for the best journeys, that the presence and collaboration of all the teams was fundamental.  

Do you think that the International exhibitions at Hangar could underline an aspect that was almost missed in Italy for few years in the past, as the relationship with Museums and Institutional realities not only in this Country? 

I cannot talk for other institutions, but for sure all the exhibitions at Pirelli HangarBicocca have an international resonance and the public is more and more international too. Historically Milan is an important place for arts patronage and private investments for culture. Today contemporary art is maybe more difficult to understand simply because is not yet historicized and “digested”, but in Milan, this proliferation of independent, no profit and private spaces that has been characterized these last years is a symptom of an extraordinary energy. I can’t quote them all, and this is a good sign, but many names come to my mind, from ICA to Converso, to Fanta to, more recently, Fonderia Battaglia and its collaboration with Cura or again Ordet.


Rosa Barba, "From Source to Poem to Rhythm to Reader”, exhibition view at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, 2017.
Courtesy of the artist and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. Photo: Agostino Osio


Matt Mullican, “The Feeling of Things”, exhibition view at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, 2018.
Courtesy of the artist and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. Photo: Agostino Osio 


Today, even with a difference of only few years ago, there are different professional and educational courses and different directions for those who wants to start the career as an art critic or curator. What advice would you give to a young professional?

I would say to see as much as possible. To attend exhibitions, from the small to the bigger ones, in museums, galleries, biennals, artist studios. And then to read, of course, it’s impossible to go everywhere, so art magazines are really useful mediums to know what is happening elsewhere. 

Would you like to share with our readers some news and highlights about Pirelli HangarBicocca 2019/2020 program?

After a summer break, we will open with a new project by Spanish artist Daniel Steegman Mangrané who, among holograms, videos shot inside the rainforest, and the construction of microsystems in which exotic insects and local plants live together, reflects on the delicate relationship between human beings and nature, or animal and human world. The complex topic of perception came back into the big retrospective by Cerith Wyn Evans that we will open during Artissima’s period and that will introduce a spectacular composition of works all played on ephemeral materials as light, sound and energy. A new piece made by fireworks will be shown and, in a new configuration, the incredible work conceived for Duveen Galleries at Tate Britan. It literally deals with a huge arabesque of two kilometres of neon light tubes. Next year the program goes on with a succession of different worlds cultural references, with projects Trisha Baga and Neil Beloufa inside the Shed, a big Chen Zhen retrospective in the Navate and, still inside the Navate, a big exhibition by Steve McQueen in collaboration with Tate Modern.

Cover image: Portrait of Roberta Tenconi. Courtesy Pirelli HangarBicocca. Photo: Lorenzo Palmieri 


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