How Expowall is promoting 20th-century photography
In 2015, the year of the World Exposition, Milan was tackling multiple issues and was dominated by an atmosphere of uncertainty around what the Expo would have looked like. Fast forward one year, and Expo 2015 can all in all be considered a big success, which brought a new identity to the city of Milan and established a desire to establish itself as an international metropolis. In addition, the role of the city administration was more supportive than authoritative, which fostered a diverse pool of cultural initiatives.
In this context, Pamela Campaner and Alberto Meomartini created Expowall. The first experiment was to go from an online to an offline project: since one of the main characteristics of the 2015 Expo was the beauty of the pavilions’ architecture, which inspired a big volume of selfies and photos published on Instagram, Expowall decided to continue the lifecycle of a project that was scheduled to last for only six months. In collaboration with Eni Enrico Mattei Foundation, they created an exhibition that showcased photos taken from the social networks and exposed on a wall in the Expo, which stayed for two weeks. After this first show, in December 2015, the Expowall Gallery opened with the purpose of showcasing exhibitions of both well-known and emerging photographers and providing an overview of the changes within the city over the past years.
The main theme of the photos exhibited in the gallery is a recollection of the Italian tradition of architecture and landscape photography. In 2018, then, Expowall dedicated a series of exhibitions to the anniversary of the events of 1968 that happened all over Europe and the US. For this series, they decided to uncover photographs that had never been seen, and they started a collaboration with Matteo Ceschi, an Italian historian and photographer who bought several discards of those years’ negatives from journals’ archives. From this collaboration, they created the exhibition “Unseen Sixties” that focuses on the American events happened in the 60s in a broader way.
Furthermore, an exhibition about the Prague Spring, produced in collaboration with Prague’s Leica Gallery and Dana kyndrovà, was displayed at Palazzo Reale, Milan. This show has been an important achievement on many levels: it was the first exhibition not exclusively produced and created for the gallery by Expowall.
It illustrates the double nature of photography as both a form of art and as a tool for documentation of historical events. A good example is the project made in collaboration with Manfredini School in Varese, where a smaller version of the Prague Spring exhibition went on show. The high school’s students actively participated in this exhibition, helping to create the multimedia catalogue and doing guided tours for visitors.
At the moment, Expowall is working on a huge exhibition of Giovanni Chiaramonte’s works that will be shown at Palazzo Reale, in Milan. The exhibition, titled "Universal", unfolds over three “chapters” (one unpublished) which represent three different trips . The common thread is the artist’s philosophy, and his desire to find the roots of western culture, searching for its destiny. This exhibition is Chiaramonte’s own pilgrimage, starting from the East (first chapter), continuing with a coast-to-coast trip in the US (second chapter), ending with a chapter in the Caribbean (third chapter, “Cielo Latino - Latin Sky”).
The artist searches for the symbols of western culture and finds them in the architecture (he has worked with Alvaro Silva, a Portuguese architect) and in details, such as the columns and the light. This way, Expowall offers the possibility to discover an important Italian photographer, who has always been at the margins of his own world. This is his legacy, a look back in order to look forward. The set up of the exhibition will be challenging for Expowall and their partner Skira both because of the deep message that each picture conveys and their size.
Even though they already have a strong presence in Milan thanks to the gallery, Expowall has recently decided to open another space, this time a little bit different. In fact, according to Pamela, the old “gallery model” or “white box” space doesn’t work in Milan,, whereas there is a really high interest in interior design. So, while museums are focusing on their communication strategy and the engagement of their audience and the local community, art galleries are trying to follow this trend too. So, Sgallery was open on 29/30th of November 2018, where the S stands for smart.
The founders want to communicate a more friendly space. It is a space that combines an interior design boutique with an art gallery, designed as a domestic and more familiar place which encourage people to get in and stay, not being afraid of being out of place. Every two/three months they set up the space with new pieces of furniture which coexist with the photographs, the main focus of Expowall’s interest. Of course, there is a risk of reducing the value of the photos, that could be seen as “mere objects of design”; however, as Pamela outlines, the ability of a gallery owner is being able to make the photos outstanding even in a totally different context.
The aim of Expowall is to educate people to photography and to open them to this type of art, showing that it is not exclusively for collectors. After iterating a number of successful projects project in their physical spaces, now Expowall is ready to bring this idea of “photography for everyone” worldwide through the creation of amazing touring exhibitions.
Vastari is delighted to offer the Expowall exhibitions on its platform!