22 marzo 2015

Esxence: Né carne, Né pesce
It is Art or the same old stuff?

Tangerine scented black rice on a bed of Simmenthal
spray cream and Leprotto saffron.
Here we are: the countdown for Esxence 2015 has started but this year the big milanese feast of the artistic  perfumery had its hors d’oeuvre on March 4th with an "art execution" curated by Angelo Orazio Pregoni.
The invitation mixes pop culture, provocation, art and perfumery as carelessly as the menu proposes fast-food ingredients like pop corn together with noble materials like black rice. On one hand it sounds worn-out and even coarse, on the other it challenges me to overcome my prejudice. In the end curiosity wins. Let's go.
So, among courses often more inviting for the sight and for the chit-chat I spent a funny evening in a trattoria-like, talk-show atmosphere. Noteworthy a sparkling Anna Mascolo Eva Kant wannabe flirting with Mario Gomboli (Diabolik's dad), my amused table companion. Provocations are useful to make you reflect, so I get back home with the Palahniuk-style doubt: "Sticking penne (literally feathers) into the nutella makes you an awarded chef?". It's up to the table companions the difficult sentence. Therefore I decided to ask it to Maurizio Cavezzali, the boss at Esxence that nicely accepted my challenge.

Roxy Bar atmosphere
How did such an unexpected collaboration between Esxence and Angelo Orazio Pregoni start?
We conceive Artistic Perfumery as a form of art, indeed. Formerly, last year, we brought our Salone into the heart of contemporary and modern art, the Triennale di Milano, because such an institution, as the Permanente during the previous years, is the real "habitat" for the masterpieces that our brands propose edition after edition. It's a natural evolution for Esxence to cooperate with an artist such as Angelo Orazio Pregoni, a contemporary, innovative, provocative, eclectic talent, that surely enriches our supply of contents of interest, more and more new and different. We think that Esxence is a quite mature event, able to propose challenges and discussion ideas, allowing our public to think of us as a sort of authority for this sector, but also to call it into question, to doubt about usual "dogma", alwyas respecting the tradition of Artistic Perfumery and the willing of young emerging brands, and, sure enough, Angelo's style can be supported and carried out. Esxence's first mission is the promotion of this sector, almost like a guide, whose ideas can be completely embraced but also observed from different points of view, not always in perfect syntony.

Surely someone will remember the surreal scene of Angelo Orazio, enchained in front of the Triennale, denouncing the death of Perfumery and asking freedom for Art. Is this a reaction to his performance?
There's no doubt we were quite affected by what Angelo made happen during the first day of event: the strenght of the message, the curiosity it raised and the immediacy to express an idea to think about. We welcomed it as a challenge, but we didn't had the opportunity to go on with the dialog. when our ways crossed again, we understood that even if we may appear so different, we have a lot of things in common. The first one is a clear artistic vision. The second one is being able to give space to the interpretation. While interpreting art, we go Beyond our comprehension, we make it part of ourselves introducing our subjectivity. The same experience happens while smelling a perfume: we can read its story and appreciate the technical elaboration, but by merging it with our emotions and memories, we let it get into ourselves... it's another story. Angelo Orazio Pregoni works quite in the same way: everytime he designs and proposes an artistic performance, he gives you you the chance to approach it without parameters and prejudice for a real sensorial experience, whether it's visual, olfactory or tasting, like the Nè Carne Nè Pesce dinner.

Anna Mascolo and Mario Gomboli
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've understood that Né Carne Né Pesce is indeed about the evolution of contemporary society that is being targeted by advertising and marketing messages that flattens the capability to take independent decisions about reality. Esxence grants year after year a list of extremely high level exhibitors, selected according to strict criteria that define who is representative of the Artistic Perfumery sector and who is not. How do you explain this dichotomy?
The presence of a Technical Committee that evaluates the applications of the brands willing to exhibit at Esxence is a synonymous of guarantee for our visitors. It's a truly complex sector, with many different faces and it's easy to get lost, mainly because of trends and market categories mixing and overlapping (big cosmetic groups acquiring art perfume brands, exclusive fragrance collections by mass brands… ). Esxence proposes itself like a guide, like a showcase with lots of high quality options: our public, operators and visitors, entrust and ask us for advice, but in the end they make a second selection: this is the confirmation that "selective criteria" and choice capability can coexist. With Né Carne Né Pesce, I think that the keyword is dialog, discussion, the possibility to consider more that just 2 options, not just white and black, not only meat or fish.

Which are the project Né Carne Né Pesce next steps and evolution? Was the dinner only a part of it?
Exactly, the performance/dinner was a provocation that – remarkably, and we like it – won't find answers or solutions at Esxence, but will play with our public: it will be first cought unprepared, and then it will decide to react, putting their own cognitive capabilities back to work, in a pure way, without external influences. First with a conference-interview by the great journalist Anna Mascolo, and then with an installation – exclusively realized for the Fair in cooperation with the designer Marco Ventura - Angelo will reveal the rules of this new marketing that doesn't whisper but screams, that doesn't suggest but constrains, letting its mask down. The observer will be therefore able to get closer to the work being only led by sight and smell: a monstruos metallic sculpture/frame that "offers" 2 fragrances, created on purpose by the nose, named Né Carne and Né Pesce, surely not so appealing for people who live Esxence as an olfactory and aesthetic dream!

Aside smell, Nè Carne Nè Pesce is mainly about food. Right in the year of Expo 2015 in Milan where one of the main points will be more attention on food by the customers, does this project come as a coincidence?
Not at all. This project is Esxence's tribute to Expo 2015 through the vision of Angelo Orazio Pregoni.

How does Expo's theme can be linked to this approach?
Choosing carefully how to eat and respecting the resources of the planet connected to nutrition is the same approach of Angelo concerning consumption capability: I don't follow the crowd, I decide by myself - searching for informations and listening to comments - and I justify my own choices. apart from the available economico budget, for a gourmet dinner or a quick shopping at the supermarket for a kitsch break - to use one of the keyword of Pregoni's project - we have the possibility to make some little actions for our and the planet's wellness through the awareness of the decision

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