This week we had a chat with Alessandro Berni, the founder of Clio Art Fair.
What is Clio Art Fair? Can you please describe Clio Art Fair to me?
Clio Art Fair is a marketplace that allows independent artists to come into direct contact with insiders without the presence of any intermediary. The project was born when I was living in New York and working as an art critic, I had come into contact with many independent artists capable of producing quality works but who had difficulty finding exhibition spaces and therefore an audience of insiders; this was because we had little time or little experience to devote to our promotion. Starting from this need, we built a tailor-made fair where artists can promote themselves, and where gallery owners will not be present as exhibitors but are invited to participate as spectators.
When did you create the Clio Art Fair? And how many editions have taken place so far?AB: In our first 6 years of life, Clio had 11 editions of the fair and hosted 541 artists representing 5 continents and 35 countries.
What kind of works do you showcase at the fair?
All sorts of artworks from independent artists and collectives from all over the world. Artists have been freed up to use different materials and media and to deviate from accepted art practice definitions. Clio also hosted two special sections: I Want to Go Home, curated by Asya Rotella in March 2019, and A Nest Watching an Avalanche in March 2020.
What makes Clio Art Fair unique?
The logistics services that we are able to make available to our artists is what makes Clio unique. We can offer logistics for the shipment of the works, for installation and also for sale if requested. We have a team of art handlers and very close curators and sellers built over the years. Moreover, during the selection process, our team of curators establishes a dialogue with each artist, preparing in detail the selection and promotion on-site and online of each work.
How did Clio Art Fair grow in the past years?
During this period together, the fair grew exponentially. In the beginning, the fair started on the fifth floor of the Wolf Building on 26th Street, and by 2018, we were organizing our events on street-level storefronts positioned in the key areas of the city.
Is there a preferred medium of art that has been successful using this method?
It is important for us to have the maximum diversity of media present, site-specific included.
Do you have any particular success stories related to the new types of dialogues that you have created (artists/collectors, artists/curators)?
From 2014 to today we have managed to create a network of returning artists, curators, and collectors. Every edition we meet new friends, people we sometimes hang out with during the year. Our fair is an opportunity for dialogue, sharing, and comparison with people from all over the world.
What are the plans for this year? And how has this pandemic impacted the fair?
Considering the current health situation, we are officially suspending our fair programming for the next 12 months.
Starting with the name chosen for our project, Clio, the muse of history, we have never hidden the Greek and Latin references of our roots. Our culture, although lovingly open to influences from all over the world, which provide for profitable and mutually enriching exchange, continues to have at its core an education that includes the texts of the Old Testament. Our spirituality is experiencing an epochal and ancestral challenge. And these new times have allowed us to dedicate ourselves to the rediscovery of texts that contributed to our education in our youth and have helped us to rediscover an awareness of how to live in an obligatory period of repose. In biblical times, every seventh year was a “sabbath under the Mosaic law, a time during which the land was allowed to rest. Clio will enter a sabbath of sorts.
When and where will the next editions of Clio Art Fair be taking place?
We have arrived in our seventh year of activity with an awareness that we will be coming to a halt. However, we are ready to announce new developments. Clio, the Manhattan Fair for independent artists, will debut in Venice in June 2021 as a side event of the Biennale, it will then return to NY in September 2021 during the Armory Show and will debut in Los Angeles in February 2022 as a satellite event of Frieze LA. Once this period of emergency is over, we expect a period of freshness, vigor, and additional energy. We are awaiting and planning for an historical awakening.
We are ready to select the artists for our new programming period, and we invite you to submit your works. The application is free. The marketing fee will be waived if you complete the application by December 14, 2020.
With the hope of a profitable and creative sabbatical period, we respect social distancing today, but we will re-hug stronger than ever tomorrow.