03 December 2020

An Interview with Mariela Sancari and Fonderia 20.9’s Co-Founders

03 December 2020 - Written by PhMuseum

The judges of PHmuseum's latest prize talk about the Verona based gallery, their curatorial approach and how photographers can benefit from exhibiting there.

An exhibition at Fonderia 20.9

Intersection - PHmuseum Exhibition Prize is the new proposal of PHmuseum aimed at connecting photographers with artistic institutions. This first edition will offer a solo show at Fonderia 20.9, with the eventual prize recipient selected by the space co-founders Chiara Bandino and Francesco Biasi and Argentine photographer Mariela Sancari. We went to talk with them to learn more about them, their working methods and how the prize could be an opportunity for photographers to rethink their artistic approach.

Let's start from your commitment on several fronts that goes from photo-editing to printing, from curating to promotion. Chiara, Francesco, do you believe that nowadays it is very important to master all the aspects of the photographic language, and were Fonderia 20.9 and Fonderia Hub born with this intent?

In a way, yes. Fonderia was born to share our vision of contemporary photography with the city of Verona. The photographic language has considerably changed in the last ten years, along with cultural and social transformations. The role of images has become central in everyone’s life, but most people have never had a proper visual education. Fortunately, photography is no longer recognized as the indisputable representation of the truth - as an image without code, in Ronald Barthes’ words. It is now increasingly seen as a vehicle to express ideas, or depicting our complex reality. Besides, we believe that the way photography is presented to the public might redefine the work itself. Indeed, photographers are more aware of the methods through which addressing their message, involving different practices and supports. Our aim is to collaborate with artists in this communication process and offer different technical solutions, while granting them exposure and a place where to exhibit. In these years, we have learned to work on different levels thanks to the experience we had with the various artists we hosted. This means more than just being able to do a little bit of everything. It implies a network of collaborators and relationships on the territory that allows us to be able to satisfy any needs.

Fonderia Hub

Chiara, let me ask you about Fonderia 20.9’s curatorial approach: how do you collaborate with artists and how do you support them in the guise of curators?

We start with planning the exhibitions of the year. All together we outline a program that is consistent in terms of themes, language and aesthetics. Once the artists have been chosen, we start working on a single show. The relationship with the artist is what we care about most. The first step is certainly listening to the their expectations. Then begins a phase of comparison and sharing ideas. The production is the final result of a path that starts from the study of the body of work, continues through the editing phase and ends up in the final realization. The challenge is to find the right compromise between the author’s wishes, our curatorial choices, the peculiarities of our space and our audience. What we do is to find possible solutions to convey the message of the work. One of our rules is that everything, in the show, must be functional to the message.

One of your main goals is to encourage the distribution of photography as a physical object. Francesco, would you tell us more about the printing processes and book editing?

Since our first show, we have tried to produce something physical that visitors could bring home. Most of our audience is not in the art business and we like the idea that our exhibitions could live outside of our walls, in people’s houses. So we started to produce a series of catalogs and special edition prints for each of our events. The catalogs are designed, edited and hand bound by Chiara, always in close contact with the photographer. My own interest in fine art printing has grown during these years. In the beginning, it was just a way to have more control over the process but with time, printing has become another opportunity to collaborate with artists and other realities: our clients. I have attended several courses and workshops, and now our workflow is certified. We are very proud to help photographers even in this important part of their job.

Mariela Sincari at Fonderia 20.9

Mariela, you exhibited Mr. & Dr. - a book you made in collaboration with Adolfo Cordova - at Fonderia in 2017. How was your personal experience with Fonderia 20.9 and how do you think the awarded photographer will benefit from this opportunity?

We had a great time! The whole team helped us to create that experience we were looking for: transforming the book into an exhibition. They were open to experimentation, discussion and finding new ways to solve problems regarding the installation. I think the awarded artist will really benefit from this opportunity because Fonderia 20.9 and the Intersection Exhibition Prize itself are conceived to allow artists to think further about their own photographic work. I hope the price recipient will look at this show as a chance to critically revisit his/her own practice.

Exhibiting in a new space sometimes raises questions about the work itself, as a matter of relating to a new environment and public. How was your work received in Verona and have you felt that something has changed after that exhibition?

I couldn’t agree more: every time we show our work in a new space, we need to rethink it for that particular place and conditions, whatever they may be. When we showed Mr. & Dr. at Fonderia 20.9, we decided to explore the transition from the book page to the gallery space. It was quite an unusual process as the book was published before we exhibited the work. We ripped the pages of the book and spread them, framed, throughout the gallery walls, along with some large prints of the photographs included in the book, creating a dialogue between the different visual and textual layers. We transformed the lower floor, many times devoted to showing video pieces, into an atmospheric space using red spotlights and framed texts on the walls. Although I always think it is complex to compare an exhibition to something else, for instance a publication, I did feel that after showing at Fonderia 20.9 we discovered other aspects of Mr. & Dr. that we hadn't noticed when working at the book.

Chiara, Francesco, what will be relevant for you when reviewing the submissions of Intersection vol.1?

What we look for in a body of work is a critical point of view that makes clear the author's thought. The photographic language must be consistent with the issue as we think that a balanced and true narrative helps to empathize with the story. In a project, everything should be indispensable and nothing superfluous.


Intersection Vol.1 is currently open for submissions, wiht the final deadline set for 15 December 2020. Learn more and apply at

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