Annex: A dialogue between Anna Scalfi and Cesare Pietroiusti

by Cecilia Canziani

indeposito (1) is a temporary space made available for the storage of works that would otherwise be dispersed. Artists who for different reasons do not know where to allocate their works, and would otherwise destroy it, can make use of indeposito services. There is no charge for the use of the storage space, the directors reserve the rights to decide whether or not to accept the works, and the transactions are regulated by a legal contract. indeposito builds upon aspects of precariousness and invisibility that characterize the contemporary, using them as as resources, which gives it the form of a temporary, flexible, disseminated space. indeposito reactivates spaces that are not used, and the works in deposit are accessible and engage in a new dialogue with the public.

(1) indeposito exists in its use, and it manifests itself a subtraction of a void. Even in its written form it adapts itself to the given context. It does not have a specific font, colour, proportion and is characterized only by an action of resizing. The logo indeposito is defined in relation to the text of the page where it appears, by using the same font and colour, minus three points of size, and always appears in small caps.

Annex: A dialogue between Anna Scalfi and Cesare Pietroiusti

Cesare Pietroiusti — indeposito, which might translate as “instorage,” is a project you have devised and which has its own art director, Denis Isaia, who also supervises the Trento headquarters. The indeposito site on the Internet is created and run by Cristian Pozzer, and Patrimonio del Trentino SpA has temporarily offered a currently unused space. The lawyer Gianfranco de Bertolini has provided legal assistance. It seems only right that I should start with a counterintuitive question, which needs to be interpreted in the broadest manner possible: in terms of your expectations, your fears, or possibly your superstitions, in what way do you think that indeposito might not work?

Anna Scalfi — At the moment, I have no expectations, fears, or superstitions. What I am certain about is the six hundred square meters, cleaned with sorghum brooms, buckets of water, and blisters on our hands; two trash bins filled with what is termed “non-recyclable waste” because of its unclear biological or synthetic origin; an inch of water in the bathroom, flooded on Friday afternoon, just two days before the press conference; and, last but not least, forty-eight euros worth of brooms, buckets, detergents, and bags that cannot be refunded. Perhaps it is already not working. By normal criteria, which allow one to make reassuring projections in terms of time, innovation, or religious beliefs, it is certainly not working right now. Statistics, percentages, numbers—the rhetoric of the system ensures standard conventions, and the model of non-functioning is standardized by market rules. This is why if indeposito does not work, its necessity will be ensured. This is why Denis and Chiara have broken their backs dancing in the dust. Luca, from the furniture shop next door, took fifteen chairs from his window and lent them for the conference, and a very kind plumber, requested by the company that gave us free use of the warehouse for indeposito, also came along. You could say we might consider the non-functioning of indeposito as pretty mediocre.

Cesare Pietroiusti — indeposito is a priceless intuition. Even at the cost of quoting myself, I really do believe it could be referred to as a non-functional space. And you’re right: this is exactly why it’s necessary. It is indeed a potential space, because it clearly offers possibilities but gives no guarantees of productiveness or investment, of definition or role. More than anything, it is a space that is constantly waiting, and thus in a state of suspension with regard to any possible conclusion or result. indeposito is always waiting: like any empty space, it is waiting for something to fill it—in this case, works of art that no one knows where to place. But, unlike all other spaces, once the works have actually arrived, the space is also waiting for them to leave. Paradoxically, indeposito really does “want” to be continually and repetitively emptied. This is what makes it different from museums, but also from our homes. This makes it just as necessary as any other place whose meaning needs to be sought, deposited, and introduced on each occasion—as necessary as any place we see in the current plethora of self-celebratory, fake, and clearly defined sites. This is true at least in terms of the spectacular impact that museums seek when they “communicate” what they are doing or what they are going to do.

Anna Scalfi — Your reference to expectation makes me “long-circuit” ecstatically, and I will try to transcribe the concept by converting it into language. In terms of the definition of roles, what I am interested in is how indeposito offers an opportunity for the self-attribution of a role—in terms not of privileges but of responsibilities. It is no coincidence that the term “director” comes from institutional organizations. Those who are inspired to become the “director” of a local venue can find a place and manage their own collections, working on their own curatorial vision. When I say that the fact that indeposito does not work is a guarantee of its necessity, I mean “necessity” as an alternative to the system. It is necessary as a logical way of deviating from the expected results. A non-functioning of the system is a local functionality, given context in the form of special significance, and thus one that responds to a system of significance rather than of economics. A market of significance that is agreed upon, and one that can be proposed and accepted—an alternative significance at the heart of the decision-making process, which deals with its context and thus with the mechanisms of relational, rather than coercive, consensus. The idea of expectation and of disengaging the mechanism from changes over time leads to a break from any retroactive economic assessments and, in its logical ramifications, it anticipates the identification of the space in an attribution of significance itself. I have been able to create these projects thanks to this currency of significance—which can be agreed upon, and which runs through all their roles and functions—and thanks to its acceptance as a result of acknowledgement. Yes, you’re right: “on deposit,” “introduced on each occasion.” The current value of meaning and of its common utility is confirmed by action and use. Like in a bank: on-deposit, on-deposited.

Cesare Pietroiusti — As Adorno has repeatedly and mercilessly explained, the issue here is one of “de-mythicization,” one of realizing that the means of thought, convictions, and even desires that appear to be “ours” are induced, at least in the first instance. What we believe to be true (or beautiful, or whatever) is almost always false. So the only thing we can do, patiently and without any great hope, is to attempt to reveal the (external, but firmly internalized) mechanisms that “make” us think, feel, or want something. We need only think of places that are built. In other words, of “buildings”: what happens when a political power without any idea, culture, or vision, attempts to assert its presence? It will build a monument around an empty meaning, and the inconsistency of this monument will be compensated for as much by its name (maxxi, mega, macro) as by its architectural appearance. The more this senselessness emerges, the more it is disguised by monumentalism, high-tech solutions, and exorbitant costs. First point: the more something costs, the less sense it makes. Definitions, like product labels, are invented to disguise this lack of meaning. “Museum of contemporary art” is no longer anything like a myth; it is a label. I think we can free ourselves of this label and—I say this as an artist—from any subservience to it. We need to blow the lid off the shams of those who attribute to themselves (and to whom we attribute) the power of legitimization, and we must first of all do this within ourselves. The “museum of contemporary art” (and any other place that is defined and delegated) actually delegitimizes. Second point: the more an institution claims to give one legitimization, the more it takes from one. So I consider indeposito to be precious because it is non-functional, illegitimate, and not appointed. In other words, its uses and values are potential (because they are open to suggestions from anyone) and not guaranteed (because they need to be assessed each time).

Anna Scalfi — This contradiction comes out in everyday life and the raw nerves of the system emerge from the details. They are sweet-filled decaying voids, they are universes. I start from there, imagining more, and introducing a minor disturbance into the mechanism. By negotiating everything in offices, in compliance with all the standard rules, procedures, and permits. And often by provoking legitimate exceptions, in that thin slice of discretionary power that remains in the hands of the official. With no experience, one can act outside the rules of the system. I accuse the concept of legitimization in the broadest way. I like it, it is required, I consider it, and I adapt to the rule: I legitimize myself. And I do so in order to enter the system and interact. In education, in permits, in the human negotiation of collaboration. My first experience: the total lack of a budget is worth more than the limited presence of a sponsor. Sometimes I’ve made my works in spite of and only thanks to the guarantee of not having any cover for my budget. It is only this that has allowed people who are completely alien to the world of art to listen to ideas and to be persuaded by them, and to end up contributing materials and services. The less-than-partial presence of a sponsor would have made any assistance impossible, changing the prices and making the project as a whole quite unfeasible, and that is exactly what was happening. A system that believes it needs to safeguard and regulate economic profit legally and commercially makes anything else unpredictable and difficult to achieve. It is not contemplated. A whole array of solutions need to be created, with the assistance of experts. My second experience: skepticism about contemporary art is the best form of vetting for the significance of the project. Normally, those I contact to solve some problem first feel the need to make it quite clear to me that they have nothing to do with contemporary art, which they consider incomprehensible, costly, and absurd. Then they go silent, because they have suddenly come up with a solution for my problem: they go back to what they were saying, now completely caught up in the project, seeing it from within. And I smile: it’s done. In spite of all the terrible prejudice against contemporary art. And, depending on their own particular abilities, they all add their own forms, colors, and materials, while I smugly hold in check my supposed control over aesthetic decisions. I like the “frame” of art because it allows otherwise impossible, unimaginable, and prohibited actions. I like sparking it off in unofficial places, bringing the context into it, free from any positive prejudice about art, free from the reassuring boundaries of artistic nature in this environmental anomaly, where attribution wavers between insult and surprise. I like the predicament and the break from eternal commonsense, the holding back from the automatic controls that distract you, so that you can understand what borderline you’re walking on. I like leaving this margin empty so that you can negotiate with yourself about the meaning of what you see.

Cesare Pietroiusti — I’ll ask for hospitality at indeposito in the coming months. “The Museum of Italian Art in Exile” is a project of mine that aims to start up a research project throughout Italy, and later it intends to acquire a certain number of works by (Italian) artists who are not represented in any museums in Italy and who have no (or almost no) visibility in the art-media system. This traveling museum will be taken in by a number of institutions. Before it goes into exile, however, I’d like the collection to stay, at least for a while, at indeposito. At least in Italy, nowhere could be more suitable. 

(2010, visible. where art leaves its own field and becomes visible as part of something else, edited by Angelika Burtscher, Judith Wielander, Sternberg Press, Berlin-New York)