This is my first brief presentation text as the President of La Biennale and I am extremely pleased that it is the Theatre which has given me this opportunity because, together with its siblings Dance and Music, live show’s three limbs, it perhaps has less visibility and media appeal than Art, Architecture and Cinema. But it is no less important and requires no less hard work and commitment.
Antonio Latella has embarked on this Fourth Act of his direction with a powerful emphasis on negation: NO to hiding everything not considered to correspond to “what the public should or shouldn’t see” decision criteria. But whose criteria are these? And what needs, censorships, prejudices and objectives do they respond to?
Antonio Latella begins with the limited visibility which contemporary Italian theatre is accorded inside and outside Italy. Giving visibility to those who are there but can’t be seen is one of this project’s great strengths and its significant educational function. It is not by chance that the Artistic Director has thrown a great deal of energy into the Biennale College work.
But in this phase he rejected (censored) the educator’s role, taking part on an equal footing with those called on to take on the censorship theme, which “exists, even if it is skilfully hidden”. This measuring up has eliminated the figure of the ‘boss’ and from it the world premieres which we will be seeing on stage for the Biennale Teatro 2020 have emerged.
I’m struck by the absence of an ideology behind Antonio Latella’s project. I like the fact that he presents himself as a researcher starting from statistical data: the contemporary Italian theatre is little seen in Italy and almost not at all abroad. It is an unpleasant fact (a consideration that was the centre of the Italian cinema debate, too, for many years) which should not be HIDDEN (censored) but rather freely taken on.
Artists have been invited to experiment with ‘new products’.
They were not to show what they have already shown with their work. They were to reset the past and seek out the hidden (above all what was residing there) without appealing to criteria. And so as not to miss out a passage which we are duty bound not to ignore in these difficult times, I feel that this seeking out the hidden wherever it is hiding is something which Latella’s work and the question at the heart of the Biennale Architettura 2021 curated by Hashim Sarkis, How will we live together?, have in common.
And this is a sign that our curators are ahead of their time, embarking on paths whose final destination is unclear and anticipating the questions and experiments which must become answers for what is to come.
This spirit of exploration must be, I believe, the driving force behind a continual contemporary art dialogue, be at the centre of all the disciplines which have made La Biennale’s history. I consider Antonio Latella’s proposal to be a gauntlet that La Biennale di Venezia must pick up, as a commitment to the future, both near and far.