lunedì 15 ottobre 2018


Francesco Conz

The Hoard of Francesco
The history of the Archivio Conz and of how Supportico Lopez is bringing it to light


A few minutes walk from the train station of Jungfernheide, in Berlin, between constructions site and manufacturer's storage, there is a warehouse that hosts very special objects. It is the Archive of the Italian collector Francesco Conz, who died in 2010. There Stefania Palumbo e Gigiotto Del Vecchio the curatorial couple of Supportico Lopez and former gallerists, are bringing the Archivio Conz it light.
The Archivio carry the most disparate objects. Everyday an indefatigable team unpacks, photograph and document them.A white piano, with painted on a colorful writing: a Souvenir for Alaxander from Slippinback, is a work by Dorothy Iannone dated 1989/90; there is a black rocket with cello strings and fake red carnation signed by Charlotte Moorman; it is the ‘Bomb Cello’ from 1984. Another piano, with big white wings, ready to flight out of the room, is ‘Piano con Alas’ by Esther Ferrer from 1986.Those are just three artworks in a collection of 2.000, all connected to Fluxus, Concrete Poetry, Lettrism and other Avant-garde movements. There are also 365 Editions,a series of multiples and publications, strongly desired and produced by Conz.Allan Kaprow,Thomas Bayrle, George Brecht, Giuseppe Desiato, Geoffrey Hendricks, George Maciunas, Bruno Munari, Yoko Ono, Claes Oldenburg, Nam June Paik, Gina Pane … are just few names among the hoard in the Archivio Conz. Artworks are coming out from the boxes as relic of our time.

Dorothy Iannone, Piano for Alexander, 1989/90, Piano, paint, 146 × 160 × 100 cm (57 ½ × 63 × 39 ⅜ inches), Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

Francesco Conz was born in 1935 in Cittadella, near Padua in Italy. A black sheep of an aristocratic Austrian-Hungarian family, he grew up with a very Catholic bourgeois education. They wanted him to study economy and law at the Catholic University of The Sacred Heart of Milan but he left Italy to travel through Europe as a bohemian. Young Conz did the most disparate jobs, from the shop window decorator to the camera operator.Such a dandy and still so little it’s on the web about him. Something it’s on Patrizio Peterlini‘s website, his assistant from 2005 to 2010, now director of Fondazione Bonotto.
All the artworks are dedicated to him, Conz, a legendary character of the art world. Rather eccentric more than eclectic “Francesco Conz was an atypical collector - says Gigiotto Del Vecchio - Indeed he was collecting experiences with the artists. That's why he called it ‘Archive’ because it is a record of memories. His activity is strictly connected with the Fluxus period. He was a fine intellectual man with the power of catalyzing artist and producing works together with them”.
He also worked as footman for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. His was not an empty wander though. During these years he studied literature at the Menéndez Pelayo International University of Santander and grew his passion for languages.
Once back in Italy, in the beginning of the ‘70, he started to approach art, opening opened a Gallery in Venice “ Galleria d’Arte Moltiplicata” a gallery of multiplied art.
“In those years, He get near to a group of Italians collectors and gallerists - explains Gigiotto - Gino Di Maggio, who set up Mudima Foundation, Rosanna Chiessi, with the gallery Pari & Dispari, and Giuseppe Morra with the Studio Morra .  They got in touch with Vienna Actionist exponents as Hermann Nitsch and Günter Brus and also Joe Jones of the Fluxus community”.
It was lighting the fuse. Conz started to focus on working with artists from Fluxus and other Avant-garde artistc movements of his time.
“It is difficult to define Fluxus as a movement - says Stefania Palumbo - because it doesn’t have one Manifesto but many. Fluxus was the way in which artists were involved in the making of art. Francesco Conz was involved in the production of the art pieces in an active way, commissioning artworks and giving the artists the possibility to produce them”.
In the Palazzo Baglioni in Asolo, he hosted artists coming from all over the world, as in a hub. Joe Jones stayed there for 5 years. In Asolo, the Archive and Editions Conz got the fuel.

Al Hansen, 1984, matchboxes, glue, cardboard, 20 × 88 × 24 cm (7 ⅞ × 34 ⅝ × 9 ½ inches), 
Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

“Fluxus was this network of relations, open and affirmative - says Stefania - it was nothing ‘against‘’”. “ It was more a philosophy:  a conscious freedom to produce art that was never been absorbed by the rules of the market - add Del Vecchio - There wasn’t any hostility in them. It was ‘underground’. Many artists who were part of Fluxus were close to Pop art like Allan Kaprow and Bob Watts.”
Francesco Conz with the Archive and the Editions proposed an alternative way of production of art that worked a bit as an energy generator for artists.
“During the 60s there was a moment when the cultural and political process brought to the natural affirmation of different currents in the artword, one of them being the Pop Art. - explains Gigiotto - Fluxus and Pop Art have in common the consideration of art and life as two elements of the same experience with the difference that Fluxus didnt consider the art market the main vehicle for its diffusion. Still, though, there wasn’t any antagonism between the two worlds. On the contrary, there were continuous exchanges between the two”.
After Conz’ s death the Archivio moved to Austria and then to Germany. Here Stefania Palumbo and Gigiotto Del Vecchio took over the project reordering the Archive and the Editions. “We got in touch with the Archivio through Henri Chopin’s work that we were representing with the gallery. Since we are both Italians and with a bit of Fluxus spirit, we immediately found we had something in common; but since we are not traditional archivists and we are always looking for project that give us the freedom to express ourselves, we decided to promote the archive in a different way. Twisting it a little bit. We want to make it a living archive, as it was for Conz himself”.
The documentation of the archive is going to be ready in a couple of years.
In the crates there aren’t only artworks but also a myriad of letters, editions, photographs, even the materials that artists used to work as brushes and various stuff. Francesco Conz was morbidly obsessed with them. He called artists the Saints of our time.
Together with major artworks there is a commercial aspect related to the Editions.
“The work of the archive and the Editions and Publications comes together. - Explains Stefania Palumbo - For Francesco Conz the publications and multiples were very important. He worked to the editions until he died. They come from the idea that art should be accessible to the widest public“.
There will be two website one for the Archive and one for the Editions. The two aspects will be   constantly monitored together.

Joe Jones, Music Kit Xylophone, 1975, Parts and instructions to build a xylophone. Wooden case 52 × 35 × 13.5 cm (20 ½ × 13 ¾ × 5 ⅜ inches),Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

“The mission is, together with documenting the archive, to refresh Conz’s memory and his message around art  - continues Stefania - This operation we are going to do with the Editions: publications and multiples“.
The ambitious project expects the acquisition of the Archive to a Private or Public Institution. The plan is in 5 years time. Conz Editions are the icing on the cake. They come to life as a way to spread art as much as possible but keeping high quality. “This was Conz's way of actively participating in the production of art.” - tells Stefania. - It worked like this: Conz bought a piano, or a fridge, or he found some plaster statues at the antique market, and then asked an artist to 'do something with it'”.
A bit like in the Secret Museum – the last location and project Francesco hosted for his collection in a country house outside Verona – the Archivio Conz has also become a place where artistic interventions and performances happen.  
The Performance Agency with the creative direction of Yael Salmonowitz, artist and director,  is working in this direction since the beginning with several events.
“I met Gigiotto e Stefania when I was working for the gallery Supportico Lopez - tells Mrs Salmonowitz -  It was just one year collaboration, but we developed a very strong human and professional relation.
I come from the theater and movie scenes, then for some reason my life intertwined with visual arts. But I never felt a difference between the two worlds for me it was one. I always worked together with artists coming from different fields.
In that time I was finishing the script of the movie “Investments” in 2017. Then I took some time off.  After the break, I developed an idea I had about a project of performances that took places in different moments: Mass I, Mass II and Mass III.
Since I always been in touch with Supportico I asked if I could make it in the courtyard of the gallery and they invited me to do it at the Archivio. I thought it was a perfect coincidence, a little bit like in the Fluxus”.

Ben Vautier, Ethnies en luttes pour le droit á la difference, 1979, 1990, Silkscreen on cloth, 118 × 161 cm (46 ½ × 63 ⅜ inches), Edition of 50, Edizioni Francesco Conz, 
Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

The performance agency’s format investigates the space in between the various forms of art and reality. Therefore the performances are fluidly set into the environment that surrounds them in a surreal exchange between reality and fiction.
In collaboration with Archivio Conz and Supportico Lopez, the Performance Agency invites some artists to develop a new interventions starting from the works in the archive to independently move from it.
“Mass No. 1”, in September 2017, was an evening of performance with Anatomie Fleur, Battle-ax, Juliette Blightman, Forever Traxx, Jessie Holmes, Paolo Thorsen Nagel, Garrett Nelson, Felix Mathias Ott & Bahar Temiz. “The first Mass was an oyster. - Says Mrs Salmonowitz - People was moving through and in between the performances”; “Mass No.2”,  in December 2017, was starting from “The Topography of Chance” by Daniel Spoerri “to move from it as in a associative reaction chain “. There were performances by Gerry Bibby, Juliette Bilghtman, Tina Braegger, Sergio Cena, Dorothy Iannone, Ro Hofmann, Lisa Holzer, Nuri Koerfer, Quinn Latimer, Lawrence Sky Walking, Lonely Boys, Paul Sharits, Daniel Spoerri; “Mass No.3”,  “Another Map to Nevada”, was in February 2018, with Camille Aleña, Juliette Blightman, Marco Bruzzone, DAF (Dynamische Akustische Forschung), Robert Delford Brown, Esther Ferrer, John Furnival, Chosil Kil, Ariane Müller, Ben Patterson, Konrad Sprenger & Arnold Dreyblatt, Alvaro Urbano, Eric Wesley.
At this point the step forward was to bring the archive into the city. Yael Salmonowitz built up a project in three parts, which will develop until the end of 2018, realized with the support of the Berlin Senate.
The first event was “Mass X (The Unfolding)” in April 2018, a performance festival, Camille Aleña, Battle-ax, Eugen Ivan Bergmann, Juliette Blightman, Cibelle Cavalli Bastos, Adam Christensen, Luigi D’Alessio, R.O. Fitzpatrick, FORT, Jessie Holmes, Veit Laurent Kurz, Maria Loboda, Matthew Lutz-Kinoy & Natsuko Uchino, Matt Mullican, Kaspar Müller, Barock Obama, Felix Mathias Ott, Albrecht Pischel, Arthur Rieger, THE STAGE (silver rise), Rirkrit Tiravanija, Caique Tizzi, Alvaro Urbano, Raphaela Vogel, Jan Vorisek, B. Wurtz.
“The idea was to translate multiple in a multiplication of personalities. During daytime there was a simulation of a everyday life and during the night concerts and performances.
Then it was the time for “Between Points” in September 2018, a three dates boat ride from the Archivio into the city with live performances by Ed Atkins, Juliette Blightman, Stephanie Comilang, Petrit Halilaj & Alvaro Urbano, Jessie Holmes, Tarren Johnson, Sebastian Lütgert a.k.a Robert Luxemburg, Xavier Mazzarol, Reto Pulfer and Günter Schickert. “The starting point for the performative engagements along the river bed is the ritualistic performance journal “Between Two Points/Fra Due Poli” by Hendricks, who worked closely with Conz for more than three decades” says Yael Salmonowitz.
The third event is going to be in December 2018. It will be “an opera for 4 senses” in a Church.
The collaboration will go on in 2019 and now The Performance Agency will present a special project at Paris Internationale, Artissima and the Sao Paulo Carnival.
The spirit of Fluxus never dies.

Robert Watts, Flux Med - Dr. Bob, 1987, Silkscreen on cloth 153 × 104 cm (60 ¼ × 41 inches),
Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

  • Philip Corner, Piano Piece by George Maciunas, Piano, nails, white paint, 126 × 142 × 58 cm (49 ⅝ × 55 ⅞ × 22 ⅞ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
  • Mark Brusse, To Break in Case of Lonliness, 1990, Piano, additional wood cover, chain, hammer, hooks, glas, jemmy, framed drawing, Artwork: 123 × 140 × 70 cm (48 ⅜ × 55 ⅛ × 27 ½ inches)
  • Framed drawing: 47.5 × 52 × 2 cm (18 ¾ × 20 ½ × ¾ inches) (framed)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
  • Benjamin Patterson, Piano d´oiseux tropical, 1989, Piano, mixed media,185 × 260 × 115 cm (72 ⅞ × 102 ⅜ × 45 ¼ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
  • Daniel Spoerri, Fluxus Pegasus, 1987, Rug, wood, electric lights, horse head and hair, shells, water tap
  • 99 × 145 × 35 cm (39 × 57 ⅛ × 13 ¾ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
  • Charlotte Moorman, Bomb Cello, 1984, Assemblage: iron, strings and bow of cello, 193 cm ø 35.5 cm (76 inches ø 14 inches), Edition of 10
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

  • Benjamin Patterson, Flying Double Bass, 1989, 2001, Mixed media, 200 × 285 × 46 cm (78 ¾ × 112 ¼ × 18 ⅛ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano, Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

Robert Watts Objects for Implosions Inc. - Bathing suit with Pamela as model, 1967 (Objects for Implosions Inc.) print on bathing suit 66 × 34 cm (26 × 13 ⅜ inches)
Photo by Giorgia Palmisano,
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

  • Allan Kaprow, Banjo Player, 1956, Mixed media: wood, metal, plaster, wire mesh, nails, organic string, paint
  • 220 × 150 × 74 cm (86 ⅝ × 59 × 29 ⅛ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano,
    Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
  • Alison Knowles, Handpainted screen print on wood, 86 × 63.3 × 1.4 cm (33 ⅞ × 24 ⅞ × ½ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano,
    Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

  • Joe Jones, Music Machine: Xylophone, 1978, 48.6 × 32.4 × 43.5 cm (19 ⅛ × 12 ¾ × 17 ⅛ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano,
    Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
  • Geoffrey Hendricks, A Brush with Sky, 1997, water colour, paper, brush, 70 × 29 × 4 cm (27 ½ × 11 ⅜ × 1 ⅝ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano
    Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin

  • Sergio Cena, book sculpture with collages, 26 × 19 × 12.5 cm (10 ¼ × 7 ½ × 4 ⅞ inches)
  • Photo by Giorgia Palmisano
    Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin