ALL STAFF, the first exhibition of the Milanese photographer Fabio Mantegna in the spaces of the Mudima Foundation accompanied by critical texts by Davide Di Maggio and Gianluca Ranzi, can be visited from 14 October to 12 November 2021.
The exhibition presents an eclectic selection of 23 photographs installed on the ground floor of the Foundation, plus a section, on the first floor, exclusively dedicated to the music scene, another area of interest for Mantegna, with a collection of numerous video images. The title of the exhibition ALL STAFF it shows us the way to unravel the thread of a story to which the photographs allude by representing a game of references, sometimes immediate as in the case of the tribute to Gino Di Maggio, sometimes distant… as from under the concert stage. In fact, all personal, what? To find out, we need to take a step back about thirty years.
It was 1990 and a very young future photographer, Fabio Mantegna, was walking along Via Tadino with his skateboard under his arm, with his classmate. They were 11 years old each and they were from the Porta Venezia area. They knew Via Tadino well, but that day they were attracted to something different: the window of the Mudima Foundation with the then inviting exhibition VERY PIANO. Those two boys liked absolute superlatives perhaps more than football and fights, so they found themselves entering, intrigued. Among his works, another girl, Irene, the daughter of Viviana and Gino Di Maggio, president of the Foundation and a leading figure on the art scene, acted as Cicero among the works. That day began a beautiful story of friendship between the two boys, and … love at first sight with art for Fabio. In fact, after the summer, the two accidentally found themselves in class together, alternating the canonical life of middle school with the much more dreamy reality of art. Mornings at school and afternoons in the Foundation to live that friendship surrounded by artists like Ben Vautier , Allan Kaprow, John Cage, Daniel Spoerri to name but a few.
Mantegna never missed an opportunity to browse other galleries in the area, such as the Studio Marconi gallery. He remembers the pitted stairs that were a joy to walk through because through those small holes they revealed a taste of what was above and what was below.
But what did art represent for those two kids? It represented in effect the only possible way to be in the world as adults. A world of adults that still kept the magic intact. Let’s be clear: at the Mudima Foundation there were those of the Fluxus movement, of the prohibition “not to touch” even existence, a whole movement, experimentation with colors and freedom. The works had been lucky enough to experience them without conditioning and according to their suggestions. One example above all:The Quinta del Sordo by Wolf Vostell, a swimming pool / installation in the basement of the Mudima Foundation, surrounded by large canvases and luminous screens with interference, which welcomed them mysterious and benevolent when in the afternoon the boys traveled through it in a dinghy launching the paper boats to which they entrusted their dreams . Sometimes that pool didn’t make things go so well, like when Achille Bonito Oliva happened to fall into it.
And then there was the music, the young photographer was crazy about it, and he played in the courtyard of the palace. There was the music essay to prepare and then down on Knockin’ OnHeaven’sDoor… And by dint of playing it in that place of art he really got the opportunity to knock on the gates of heaven, handing Yoko Ono who was there for a project, the original John Lennon scores for an autograph.
Yoko Ono with her wraparound glasses took the pen: TO FABIO, LOVE, YOKO ONO, MILAN 92. She meets her again more than twenty years later, she tells her: “Do you remember I was little, now I’m a photographer”, and take a portrait. A long way from that childhood and enchantment period to the professional photographer, but that’s another story.
Fabio Mantegna has dedicated himself exclusively to photography since 2008, taking particular interest in the world of contemporary art and its protagonists.
In 2010 he began a continuous path with the archive of the advertiser Armando Testa, a collaboration with Gemma De Angelis Testa, President of ACACIA – Associazione Amici Arte Contemporanea carrying out a documentary work and with the Mudima Foundation engaging in various photographic projects that involved artists and personalities from the international cultural world. He also collaborates with the Marconi Foundation and with some of the most important national and international galleries.
His photographic interests also involve theater and contemporary music. There are numerous reportages dedicated to symphonic, jazz and light music concerts, of which he preserves a large archive of images.
In addition to participating in the creation of contemporary art catalogs, his photographs are often requested by national and international newspapers and magazines.
In 2016 he presents The Life of a Swiss Guard, a reportage on the life of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, a personal exhibition of 86 shots, organized at the Vatican Museums, accompanied by a catalog with a text by Antonio Paolucci.
In 2017 he won the Dondero award at the Ma.Co.f – Center of Italian Photography in Brescia with a report on the photographer Enrico Cattaneo.