The Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte was founded in Banna, in the province of Turin, in 2004. The Foundation is dedicated to the investigation and promotion of contemporary art through a program of workshops and seminars whose aims are the theoretical study of current artistic practice and instruction in the significant themes of philosophical debate surrounding contemporary art.
The principal innovation of the Foundation and its principal activity is the creation of a post-graduate residency program dedicated to contemporary Italian artists under 35 with an eye, in particular, for artists in Piedmont. Running from late spring to autumn, the annual program includes two intensive, three-week, workshops and two weeklong study courses reserved for artists who have already completed the residency program. The workshops provide an opportunity for intensive studio work supported through discussion and individual critique. Each workshop is taught by visiting masters of international reputation who individually select the themes and didactic structure of the encounter.
At the discretion of the guest artist, there can also be additional participants in the workshop. In the past there have been roundtable meetings with outside experts, larger seminars, and the presentation of papers, all of these focused on the development of a more profound articulation of the relation between theory and practice in the life of contemporary artists.
The architecture of the foundation itself, designed with large flexible work and gathering spaces, is uniquely suited to facilitate encounters between the workshop’s participants while, at the same time, providing the necessary privacy for study and reflection.
Up to eight young artists can participate in each workshop. They are selected by the foundation based on their past curriculum and on the appropriateness of their work given the theme decided upon by the visiting master. The entire group then resides together at the foundation for the duration of the workshop.
Of those eight artists, the foundation is able to offer participation to one artist with disabilities for each workshop, as there are both a studio and a living space equipped with dedicated facilities.
All of the Spinola Banna Foundation’s workshops are documented and recorded on video. From these dozens of hours of filmed material are drawn the “Quaderni Banna” or Banna Notebooks.
The notebooks offer lasting documentation of both the works accomplished during the workshop and of the workshops themselves, including recordings of group critiques and guest presentations. In addition, the notebooks also document the seminars and conferences organized between one intensive workshop and another.
These notebooks, published in a boxed set at the conclusion of each calendar year form a hypertext in which can be found the highlights of the discussions and debates that occurred in the workshops and detailed documentation of the work of individual teachers and course participants.
In its first five years of operation the Fondazione Spinola Banna per L’Arte has seen the participation of more than 80 young artists and 16 visiting masters.