Today we meet Mario Graziani , President and Founder of Afro Archives in Rome (1976).
The archive has been created with the main purpose of continuing the activity already started by the artist during his life, that is, to promote his work around the world with the assistance of Italian and foreign institutions, galleries and private owners.
In parallel with the important philological work, such as the publication, in 1999 of the catalogue raisonneé of works on canvas of the artist, Graziani and his Scientific Committee have the responsibility of issuing authenticity certifications and keep supervision of the circulation of fakes in art market. The organization of exhibitions displaying unknown works, less known and harder to find, such as Afro’s jewelry, represent an opportunity for new critical ideas about the artist. The archive is also a privileged place for all the people interested in Afro’s work, “so that the artistic and human patrimony constitutes a living material to carry on the master’s memory”.
We start submitting to the artist some questions about his position on the role of the archive in contemporary era, starting with a fundamental but practical question: “What are the main difficulties in the management of an archive?” “The main difficulties concern the proper preservation of books and archived documents (handwritten letters, photographs, artworks catalogues) and their digitalization, a permanent update concerning exhibitions, as well as a deep attention on the artworks movements and a supervision of the art market”.
A lot of recent artistic practices show a growing interest in documentation, reason for this a re-evaluation of the archives. In your opinion, what is the archive’s role today? “I think today an archive has to attempt to keep its traditional role of cataloging, preserving and promoting an artist’s work, going through with the institutional museums’ activity. It is therefore a very important function, as “memory” is the heart of our identity and to study our past offers us an evolving vision of what the past has been in relation to our present. Thus, the archive is an historical but yet living patrimony.”
New technologies could be an answer to the possibility of actually keeping this heritage alive and to make it more approachable. What is your archive’s conduct in this sense? Which is your position about the use of new media?
“Data sharing through new technology is implemented by the creation of the artist’s website (biography, works, exhibitions, critical essays). The archive, even if historical, is a permanently growing system and the possibilities offered by new media give the chance to create “lighter ” and easier sharing materials. In this context we can think of an evolution more and more in line with the requirements of speed cataloging and consultation. It remains difficult to predict the outcome of conservation. For this reason, the archive, while adopting digital solutions, cannot abandon his paper support, as its “materiality” is an important trace for data that would be otherwise incomprehensible.”
What are your future plans in this sense?
“Our main plans are to go on with our intentions and to keep improving. At the moment, one of the most important projects is a planned collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sao Paulo for an exhibition to be held in 2016”.
This post is also available in: Italian