by Lisa Torquato
First day on the job of my new F_AIR internship and I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was to be at the gallery around 1:00pm; we would be doing work for the new Sara Menegatti exhibit. Upon arriving, I was introduced to Tatyana and Ivana, the other two student interns from Florence University of the Arts. We also got to meet the exhibition curators, Oliva Spatola and Manuela Valentini. Everybody was in a somewhat panicked state of frenzy, as the artist had gotten lost on her way to the gallery and was now several hours late. We decided to begin work without her, starting with the task of painting a small wall white for part of the exhibit. The wall would eventually be used as a plain surface for the projected videography element. As we painted coat after coat of white paint on that stubbornly black wall, I began to learn more about what this exhibition was all about…
Riflesso Memorie by Sara Menegatti, curated by Olivia Spatola and Manuela Valentini, is an exploration of memory, familiar spaces, objects and Sara’s personal journey. The artist won this solo exhibition as part of receiving the 2013 GAT (“Young Talented Artist”) award. Only twenty-four years old and a recent graduate of The Bologna Academy of the Arts, Sara Menegatti has been fostering her love for photography since she was a high school student. After a childhood of many family moves, Sara learned how different objects and spaces might evoke important and emotional memories in one’s mind. Sara explores this idea thru the use of a mirror reflecting past memories in today’s current empty space. The resulting images are both sentimental and rather eerie. I was excited to meet the artist and see the rest of her work.
Before long, Sara Menegatti made it to F_AIR with her boyfriend to install the exhibition. We began the careful process of unwrapping and hanging the exhibit pieces. As afternoon slowly turned to evening, Tatyana, Ivana and myself all got to experience the mounting of a new exhibit at F_AIR. Those several of hours were a time of constant back and fourth between the artist, her boyfriend, the curators, the head of the gallery, and us interns… so many parties involved, so many people to assign tasks and so many people needing to feel satisfied at the end of the day. The fact that multiple languages had to be used definitely added to the complexity of the situation. Since Sara doesn’t speak English and my Italian is not really up to par, each time I had a question to ask her I was forced to ask thru a third-party translator. While this could be annoying at times, it was also a constant reminder of where exactly I was and what I was helping to accomplish. A year ago, if you had told me I would be helping install a new Italian artist’s first solo exhibition in a Florentine art gallery, I would of thought you were crazy. It just goes to show you how life can take unexpected and exciting turns! What an incredible cross-cultural opportunity I had before me.
One of my favorite moments of the day came when Ivana and I were instructed to evenly hang four same-sized framed photographs on a particular wall. Sara had already measured and marked the wall, so all we had to do was hammer in the nails and put up the pieces. What could have only been a ten-minute assignment, ended up taking closer to an hour because of some language miscommunication. Oh well, all part of the learning experience I suppose! When I came abroad for my semester in Florence, I had every intention of pushing myself out of my comfort. This experience at F_AIR definitely challenged me and taught me a lot about international arts management. I can’t wait to see what comes next for my semester internship!