Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana | Rome
From the 12th of October to the 4th of November
by Rory O'Keeffe
The Palazzo della Civiltà is one of the last places you would expect to see street art. Towering over the EUR area, the ‘Square Colosseum’ is the epitome of order and symmetry. Security guards surround the border and rigorous checks are carried out on entry. It would be a brave street artist who tried to tag one of the pristine white walls of one of the most iconic buildings in Rome. And yet, this week, street art is heading to the Fendi headquarters. As part of the exhibition Les Journées Particulières 2018, several street artists will carry out live graffiti paintings in front of the public (for anyone worried about them defacing the limestone façade of the Palazzo, rest assured that the graffiti takes places inside the exhibition space, on specially constructed white walls.) Curated by Paolo Von Vocano of Drago, the list of artists includes JBRock (October 12-13), Alice Pasquini (October 14-15) and Greg (October 16-17). Other artists scheduled to feature over the month include Teddy Killer, NINA/ORGH, Hoek, Pax, Brus, and Gojo.
The public, who are allowed rare access inside the Fendi headquarters, can talk and interact with the artists as they paint. Street art is a major theme of the exhibition; artisans of Fur Atelier create a unique graffiti-inspired wall piece using discarded material and a whole wall is available to visitors, who are invited to scribble their own graffiti. People sign their names, draw pictures of Homer Simpson, or simply write “Gentrification”. The initiative is part of Les Journées Particulières 2018, an exhibition by LVMH involving 56 Maisons of the group at various locations around the world. In Rome, from the 12 October to November 4, the Fendi headquarters will open to display parts of the Fendi archive, films telling the history of the company, and craftsmanship areas where artisans demonstrate their work. For the public, it’s an opportunity to see graffiti in action. On 12-13 October, spectators are treated to JBRock, one of the most famous artists on the Rome scene who helped kick-started poster and stencil art in Italy. JBRock works on a grand canvas using starkly contrasting black and yellow acrylic. On Sunday 14 October, it’s Alice Pasquini’s turn. The Roman street artist, who has a major project in Bologna next year and set up her own Street Art Festival in Civitacampomarano, works for hours on a striking piece about Rome, imagination, and memory. Describing the piece, she says: “The concept was about a young woman and the city. But is more the memory of the city. It’s not a real one, it’s more metaphysical, the feeling you have here in the EUR district. It’s about what it means to her.”
The novelty of working in an indoor space, rather than on the street, is an interesting challenge. “It’s completely different,” says Alice. “When you’re painting on a wall you’ve got shape, colour, the context and the culture of the place. Starting from a white wall is like working on a canvas.” Decked out in white overalls with ‘Fendi’ written on the back, Pasquini is aware that this is a unique collaboration between a prestigious institution such as Fendi, and a more independent movement such as street art. “I think it’s very interesting that something so historical like Fendi is taking inspiration from the street,” she says. “It’s normal, in a way, because street art has been around for 50 years now. This happens to any avant-garde in art. There is a breaking point and then it goes into the culture.” The public gather, intrigued to get so close to a street artist at work. It is rare to glimpse street art in action; artists often work under cover of night and in unpredictable locations. Here, the public gain access to both an artist at work, and one of the most memorable buildings in Rome. Tomorrow, Alice Pasquini’s piece will disappear from the wall. It will be time to pass over to another street artist, Greg. And then he will give way to someone else. The pattern will continue until 4 November. The ephemeral nature of graffiti art is something that does not change, whether inside the walls of an institution or on the street.