Art is our daily bread. In October, as lockdown is looming over the city of Ruvo di Puglia in the south of Italy, a planetary cluster of galleries has descended from cyberspace to its historic center. There, the scent of fresh bread from the local bakery leads us to discover an exhibition where art and bread are interlinked.
Bread in Italy has a strong cultural value. It is the main protagonist of the Italian meals. The bread is shared among the diners, the same way artists working online are sharing their knowledge, intentions, online space and time. Wheat, bread and art are the building blocks of culture. Both bread and art sustain us physically, mentally and spiritually.
We bring art to the table
“We bring art to the table,” states the artist Zsolt Mesterhazy who coined the linkage of online art and bread. Based on his idea, the local bakery is placing the QR barcodes of the exhibiting galleries on their bread loaves in October. The online galleries are distributed along with the bread to the local people. Art is presented as sustenance, indeed, art is our daily bread. Mesterhazy says: “It is art that nourishes the body and mind, art that nourishes knowledge, conversations, cultural confrontation, dialogue and more.”
Art accessible to all
In addition to the bakery, the online galleries are distributed among the different shops, coffee-houses and bars. Each gallery is represented by a poster with a QR barcode that people can scan with their phone and get a link to the online exhibition. In this way, shopping has the potential to transform into a cultural event, an inspiring exchange of material and spiritual goods.
Curating as taking care
The exhibition is the brainchild of the artist, lecturer and curator Domenico Barra, the founder of White Page Gallery/s network. WPG/s is a decentralised and distributed art network for artistic sharing made up of artists, curators, academics, festivals and cultural agents who independently display creative projects on their WPG websites free of charge. The WPG/s network is based on values such as solidarity, hospitality, inclusion, altruism and mutual support, and curating as taking care.
In the current exhibition, the virtual White Page Gallery/s break into the physical space of Linea Festival, and aim to create a dialogue with an urban environment deeply tied to traditions by providing a network model of online art community.
The novel idea of curating as taking care has been amplified by the coronavirus and its prolonged presence in our lives. I curate the White Empathy Box, which is part of the WPG/s network. For the current exhibition, I asked the artists of my gallery to address the pandemic momentum. Their responses have amounted together into powerful messages of hope, compassion and healing.
Gaia – The Immortal
After Chaos, Gaia – The Immortal is a digital artwork video by Sonia Lara, which is featured in the exhibition. It depicts the generative powers of Gaia, the Earth. Life forms are seen created out of particles and molecules. Biological processes transform chaos into balance. The world is reborn out of Nature. The Tree of Life stands tall at the heart of the Garden.