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White paper

April 2020, Vogue Italia comes out with a white cover and Valentina Ciarallo turns it into works of art! 

Valentina says: "April 2020, in full lockdown, wrapped in a new silence that we have all tried, I go to the newsstands to buy, like every month, Vogue Italia, my dream drawer, one of the few joys in that period. The cover comes out white, silent, silent. Symbolic testimony during the pandemic. It is the first time in the history of the magazine that the cover is without image, without color.

Those same images that since its first issue - in Italy since 1962 - each month feed the visual imagery of millions of readers. The world stops. That white was a spark for me. The idea was already there. I immediately imagined that that void could be interpreted as a rebirth. The white that represents the principle of the vital phase, a sign of hope and trust, becomes a creative stimulus for artists capable of adhering to our contemporaneity.

So that white is back to vibrate, powerfully visionary, reinterpreted through personal readings. The surface, like a canvas, a sheet or a space capable of accommodating innovative requests, becomes a collective tale animated by a variety and diversity of languages.

An all-Italian project involving 49 artists who worked materially on the blank page and in the magazine from April to June 2020. I asked them what awaits us, how to reconstruct their desires and translate them, how to get back into the game. Each artist has worked on the cover, like a canvas, a sheet, a space capable of accommodating a variety of different languages and techniques for a collective story (painting, sculpture, drawing, embroidery, photography, collage, LED, artificial intelligence app , etc ...). The idea was precisely to get the artists to work again on something material, in a moment turned digital. A story to tell, a story to start over, a story for tomorrow. "

Q: How did you manage to realize the project despite all the obstacles not only logistic but also psychological that characterized the period?

A: Being an art curator specializing in contemporary languages with twenty years of experience, I have a direct relationship with artists. I stimulated them with my proposal on how to start from a blank canvas. For many it was a period of reflection and also bewilderment and for many that white was also frightening. All the protagonists involved have joined with the desire to get back into the game. At that time it was impossible to move so I sent the blank copies by courier throughout Italy, and beyond, some of them live abroad and once the work was finished I got them back, again by post. 

How did it go with Vogue? How did you manage to get them involved? 

I secured a copious amount of magazines, considering the difficulty I found in finding all the copies. I asked my relatives and friends for help at newsstands around the city. The "White Issue" issue immediately sold out and became a collector's item. After that, I contacted the director of Vogue Italia Emanuele Farneti, whom I did not know personally, by e-mail, explaining my project. His feedback was immediate. He immediately supported the initiative with enthusiasm. And as he himself says: "the white cover has opened a path, suggesting an idea that has value insofar as it is able to generate another, and another."

What characteristics do the 49 selected artists have? How did they react to your project? Tell us about your emotion in front of the first work accomplished.

I have tried to identify some of the most interesting realities, according to my point of view, of the current Italian panorama. Mid carrer artists separated by an overall age span of 29 years. The youngest Bea Bonafini is from 1990. Source of inspiration for many artists were the great authors of the twentieth century: Pasolini, Simone de Beauvoir, Italo Calvino, etc ... And the themes range from environmentalism, civil rights, Europeanism, women's rights , the family as a place from which to start again, etc… The first work to arrive was that of the Milanese artist Letizia Cariello entitled “Saving time”. The artist drew a calendar of time, the one to come, in the white of Vogue. Making a central cut, like a wound on the numerical circularity, which he then stitches up with a red thread, thus medicating the past. From this work I believed in the project.

How would you have interpreted the white cover? 

I identify with the 49 works proposed by the artists, as if they were all my children. Forty-nine is not fifty, it touches the round figure. I deliberately stopped here. The landing place has not yet been touched, each work is an individual voice but also a piece of a project that confidently turns to other worlds.

Is the publication of the works on Vogue Italia just a first step of the Carta Bianca project? Can you tell us how it will evolve?

I hope as soon as possible to make the works visible in an exhibition, I would like to start from Milan but it could be itinerant, as the most important Italian art critic Francesco Bonami says "an exhibition to take in your suitcase". And also create a publication that collects all the works in their entirety.


Valentina Ciarallo, born in Rome, is an art historian and independent curator, specializing in contemporary languages. Graduated from the 'La Sapienza' University of Rome in literature with a historical-artistic address, she is a lecturer at IED Rome (Latest trends in the visual arts) and tutor at the Marangoni Institute of Florence (Curatorial practice). For over twenty years he has curated experimental projects, supporting young art with exhibitions and performances in institutional spaces, museums and galleries, focused on the integration of classical and contemporary art. A principle that inspired the cycle of "Spirito" initiatives, conceived and implemented between 2003 and 2016, within the Renaissance complex of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome, of which she was artistic director. He has worked with Italian and international artists including: Stefano Arienti, Mat Collishaw, Christian Jankowski, Loris Gréaud, Cyprien Gaillard, Vedovamazzei. He has conceived and curated art projects for large companies: the "Pacco d'Artista" of Poste Italiane, awarded the "Culture + Impresa Award" (2014 edition) and the "National Festival of Creative Culture" for Bnl-Group BNP Paribas. He collaborated with AltaRoma curating the first retrospective in Italy of the photographer Hans Feurer for Kenzo Takada and for the HDRA 'communication group with the "Art That Happens Award" aimed at the enhancement of Italian art. Among the latest activities “My train journey between art, beauty and sustainability”, an art and digital project for the FS Italiane Group. He collaborates with his column "Answers to Art" on Exibart magazine. She was in charge of the exhibition sector for the Vittoriano Complex in Rome (1998-2003) and collaborated with the MiBACT (ICCD). She is co-founder of the blog www.sorellesumarte.it and owner of the Instagram profile @instasorellesumarte, a small spotlight on the beautiful, the new, the original. 



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