A Geography of Emotions


Villanova di Fossalta di Portogruaro, home of Santa Margherita
Gruppo Vinicolo, 1930s. Photo by Giacomelli, Venice.

Renata Canciani Villanova private collection

I have an amazing job. I am an independent curator of contemporary art, which means I organize exhibitions for artists, mainly my peers, in different locations throughout Italy and the world.
Relationships are key to the work of a curator, especially with artists, who we literally have to take care of. We have to listen to them in order to understand their alternative visions of the world.
Art has no utilitarian purpose, no concrete reason to exist. Art allows extreme freedom of thought that emancipates both those who create it and those who admire it. But beyond this imaginary and magnificent place, which belongs to me and to which I belong, there are so many places with different landscapes, lights, smells and flavors, that my profession/passion allows me to explore and taste.
Traveling is part of my job description. Exploring the diverse places beyond the neutral aesthetic of international museums and galleries, discovering and adding them to my existential experience with that same special warmth you feel at a laid table, is my prerogative. In fact, the most effective and enjoyable way of getting to know a place is by tasting its gastronomic specialities and hearing stories about local food and traditions, which often turn into confessionals. I also believe it so be the best way of creating quality human bonds.
My trips – steps along the great journey of building my character – have always been, inside and out, two equally important parallel worlds: the art world and the real world. The art world is often a privileged non-place, where you easily run the risk of being everywhere at the same time while being nowhere at all. This is not an abstract concept, but the reality of many professionals in the art world. In particular, I remember this one famous curator, who at a gala dinner skipped all the five-star dishes and highly prized wines, drinking just a few espressos at the end.
He had the habit of saying that he only knew the museums, hotels and airports of the world – all non-places. Whereas I vividly remember, as if it had just been yesterday, the smells and flavors, as well as the faces and stories (the lives) of the Thessaloniki tavern, where the “green” wine flowed like a river from glass carafes into aluminum cups. The prestigious Stockholm bistro, where I tasted one of the finest Amarone of my life, that goes beautifully with the chef’s local specialities, the Siena enoteca, where I was harshly reprimanded for asking for some vinegar, bitter enemy of the precious bottles of red wine we had on the table, or even the Venice bacari, where Prosecco is a serious matter...
Around those disparate tables in the company of different people, theories and friendships were made, fights were had over opinions and tastes, and glasses were raised in toast to successful exhibitions and talents on the rise. I could never go without those shared moments that only food and wine can offer. These memories, over the years, have traced a personal geography of emotions, where places I have visited for work will always belong to me, with their tastes and flavors.

Contemporary Art Curator

© 2016-2019. Gruppo Vinicolo Santa Margherita. Exploring Taste Magazine

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