The Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice


LONDON — The Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, a Switzerland-based organization co-founded by Johann Rupert and committed to promoting artisanal practices, is planning a major cultural exhibition that will run from September 14-30 in Venice during Biennale of Architecture. An announcement is expected today.

Titled “Homo Faber,” the show will be held at Venice’s Fondazione Giorgio Cini, an international cultural center on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. It is meant to serve as a celebration of European craftsmanship and the value of the human touch.

“Homo Faber is an expression that was first coined during the Renaissance and it captures and celebrates the infinite creativity of human beings,” said Rupert, chairman of Compagnie Financière Richemont, parent of brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and IWC. “The exhibit will provide a panoramic view of European fine craftsmanship, but it will nevertheless have a singular undercurrent: What human beings can do better than machines.”

Spanning 43,200 square feet, the exhibition will stretch beyond the various gallery spaces at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, to the libraries, cloisters, swimming pool and other areas that aren’t usually open to the public.

Designers, curators and architects including Michele de Lucchi, Stefano Boeri, India Mahdavi, Judith Clark, Jean Blanchaert and Stefano Micelli will come together to design the exhibition, which aims to be an immersive experience where visitors can speak to artisans, observe them at work and enter virtually into their ateliers.

A wide variety of materials, products and disciplines will be on display, ranging from handmade jewelry to bespoke bicycles.

Judith Clark, a London-based curator who has previously worked on exhibitions spotlighting Chloé, another Richemont brand, and the late fashion editor Anna Piaggi, will oversee the show’s fashion element and plans to design a section that will explore the industry’s ongoing relationship with craftsmanship.

With Giorgio Cini’s Sixties-era swimming pool as a backdrop, Clark will showcase crafts such as carving, molding, waving, pleating and knitting and illustrate how they can determine a garment’s silhouette.

“I wanted to respect the drama of the architecture,” said Clark, adding that she was attracted to the idea of using a less traditional setting for the show. “It works as a surprise, you don’t associate an outdoors space with high ceilings, with an exhibition that takes a close look at the detail of human craft.”

She plans to take a “light-hearted” approach to the way she curates the space, with displays across multiple raised platforms that will unfold different layers of craft, from textile production techniques to the building of mannequins, celebrating the art of exhibition making itself.

“It’s all about preserving the human skill. In terms of timing, [the show] keys into a very contemporary fear of seeing everything replaced by machines,” added Clark.

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