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Interview with Laura Gallon – Founder of the Arte Laguna Prize

Founded in 2006 in Venice, the Arte Laguna Prize is now hosting its fifteenth edition, building upon its rich history. It is one of the most influential visual arts competitions in the world. Emerging artists and designers can take part in the competition, presenting paintings, sculptures, photographs, video art, performance pieces, virtual and digital art.

Their mission is to support and promote creativity by fostering a network of talent and presenting opportunities at an international level, thanks to collaborations with Foundations, Museums, Galleries, Art Businesses, and Artistic Residences. In addition, the art finalists get the opportunity to exhibit in one of the most renowned locations in the art world: the Venice Arsenal.

Venice Arsenal (2019), Giacomo Di Lillo

Singulart is delighted to announce that, starting this year, we will be a partner in this initiative and will be involved in the selection of some of this edition’s finalists.

We asked Laura Gallon, Co-Founder of the prize, to tell us more about this extraordinary project.

How did the project come about?

Arte Laguna Prize is the result of Beatrice Susa, who sadly passed away in 2017, and me looking to discover new artists and to revitalize the contemporary art scene.

This is how I Cammini dell’Arte was born. It consisted of an art itinerary in the city of Treviso, aiming to make art accessible to everyone by displaying artworks in shops and commercial spaces. The success of this gave life to the Cultural Association MoCA, which in turn created the Arte Laguna Prize.

The competition has grown year over year thanks to its community. Today, it includes thousands of professionals and art lovers from around the world. With each edition, participating artists see new opportunities open up thanks to international galleries, art residencies, companies, and high profile jurors from the most renowned art institutions.

Team Arte Laguna Prize

Why did you choose to host the prize in Venice?

Arsenale Nord (2019), Marco Toté

Beatrice Susa was Venetian. She loved her city deeply and knew that hosting the exhibition in that magical place would increase the value of each piece. However, the biggest reason was the Arsenale Nord, a place that at the time still needed to be renovated because it was closed for most of the year but we saw its potential.

The Arte Laguna Prize exhibitions have paved the way for the Arsenale Nord to flourish and become an important hub for various events.

How does your team choose your partners?

We choose our partners based on links and synergies with our project. We are open to partners from different industries because we recognize the importance of new perspectives, and enabling our artists to be part of a diverse network.

We also take into consideration passion, and willingness to share ideas as well as proposals with us from an international perspective. Our partners come from all over the world and represent various artistic projects such as exhibitions, residencies, productions and promotions.

What is the selection process like and what are the criteria for works?

First of all, curators and museum directors working in various countries are jury members. What distinguishes them is their ability to embrace the diverse artistic disciplines represented in the competition. In addition, the members change with every edition so as to always provide new points of view from the contemporary art world.

Selections happen in two phases. In the first phase, the jury selects 200 or more artists online to admit to the second round. In the second phase, the jury nominates the finalists who will present their pieces at the group exhibition at the Arsenale Nord in Venice.

Works are evaluated by the jurors taking into account the characteristics of international contemporary art, and artistic trends. The final decision is based on quality, which is defined by research, technical capacity, novelty, and originality.

Finalists at the exhibition in the Venice Arsenale (2019), Maila Bertoli

Do you have any advice to give to our artists who want to apply for the prize?

The advice I always give, from the bottom of my heart, is to always believe in what you do. Art in all its expressions is powerful. That is why even if the jury does not select a piece, it will still be published in the Arte Laguna World portal.

A piece of more technical advice is to take advantage of the option to submit up to five works, even in different sections. This way you can present to the jury different aspects of your artistic production. The jury is composed of seven experts who are divided into groups that will evaluate the sections closer to their expertise. Ultimately, showing works in more divisions allows artists to be evaluated by more jurors.

Do you have a fond memory from editions past?

The greatest feeling from each edition is that of the wonder on people’s faces when the doors of the Arsenale open on the first day.

Then the joy of the winners and the opportunities that arise even after the exhibition. For instance, The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai invited Silvia Manazza, a finalist in the sculpture section in 2016, for a residency. Or Elio Ticca. Even though he was not selected as a finalist, the famous Tessitura Bevilacqua of Venice noticed him and asked him to install one of his works in the facade of the palace overlooking the Grand Canal during the opening days of the Venice Biennale.

Finally, the synergies that arise from new relationships created during the exhibition are always exciting. For instance, there were artists who interviewed other finalists in a recent article for Graffiti Art Magazine, we got to read Seve Favre‘s descriptions of the work of another finalist, Grzegorz Łoznikow.

There are many other examples that fill us with pride!

What should we know about the Finalists exhibition at the Venice Arsenale? 

Save the date, March 13, 2021! The exhibition will be held at an even larger space (4,000 sqm) and 240 works will be exhibited. It will represent an artistic panorama of international contemporary art in all its facets. The artworks exhibited will be from the finalists of the latest two editions.

Finalist at the exhibition in the Venice Arsenale (2019), Giacomo Di Lillo

What is your dream scenario for the future of the Arte Laguna Prize?

I have two wishes that we are working towards bringing to life.

We would like to host the prize internationally! It would be amazing to showcase the finalists’ work around the world. Our collaborations already allow us to give opportunities to many artists to exhibit in different venues, but we would also like to make the exhibition a traveling event.

In addition, Arsenale Nord is now an important hub for contemporary art and has a large exhibition area. We want to create a series of additional events during the opening period of the Arte Laguna Prize exhibition with a focus on specific themes or artists. That’s why we are always open to new collaborations.

Take a look at the collection curated by Laura Gallon on Singulart!