Milan constantly complains about how its only art spaces are the institutional circuits and galleries of the established elite and business system, and how there is nowhere that can accommodate the new-generation artists. Only one month has passed since the Lavoratori dell'Arte implemented their planned occupation of the Torre Galfa, an action that led architects and artists to clash with the city's political and cultural authorities on this selfsame subject, ending in nothing other than vague promises of a future space in the former Ansaldo site.
A new response to this "structural deficiency" is Il Crepaccio, a recent initiative by the Il Carpaccio restaurant in the Porta Venezia neighbourhood. Taking the demand for a "shop-window for art" literally, ironically and with a pinch of enterprise and pragmatism, the restaurant offers one of its windows to up-and-coming young artists — and in the future, it will also be open to designers, writers and other creatives. Alternating every fortnight, the window — above which a few letters and some glue altered the sign of Il Carpaccio to read Il Crepaccio — allows complete freedom: limited to this space, artists are free to decide what to display and how. Patrons of the art world can, after satisfying their curiosity, slip from the street into Il Carpaccio and benefit from the specially created "artists'" menu for €25.
Little more is currently known about the mechanisms behind this initiative, not even who is pulling the strings of Il Crepaccio. What is certain is that, by adopting a simple format driven by a desire to rock the boat, this small art workshop has caught the eye of Milan's creatives. In fact, many responded to the cryptic email invitation — which only included a photo of the rendezvous, the date and time of the opening and the name of the artist involved. No further information could be found on the Web. At the opening on 31 May, most attendees were young people, artists, journalists and curators, with some curious members of the advertising and fashion worlds in the mix.
All are wondering who the brains behind Il Crepaccio might be. The most popular suggestion seems to be someone in the sector, an artist or a curator. Beyond curiosity, the art community is also debating the significance of a similar initiative and its place in a city such as Milan. Currently, the city is exploring autonomous and self-organised solutions taking art into contexts detached from strict business, and giving space to emerging young talents with no gallery support.
The trailblazer of this new art "window" is Serena Vestrucci. She reacted to the offer to occupy the Il Crepaccio space with less than a week's notice by putting some of her "things", the bits and pieces that form the basis of her work "notes" — collages, headless plastic animals, necklaces, prints, toys, bags of balls, pieces of wood, etc. — into her suitcase for the trip from Venice to Milan. She hung them on elastic bands, hooked to each other in sequence or on their own. During the installation's ten days, all will slowly fall to the bottom of the window's virtual crater. Vestrucci's Cose che si muovono nel crepaccio a una lentezza tale da sembrare solo campate in aria (Things that move so slowly in the crevice they seem simply suspended in mid-air) — the title of the installation — will alter the matter of the bands, changing their position time. Then, a new work arrives on a Monday, the restaurant's day off, and is unveiled a few days later.
The Il Crepaccio formula centres on extemporaneousness, speed and easy fruition as an artist exhibits one, not-for-sale work in a small space visible from the street, for ten days, with no admission charge. It's a concrete, small scale response — with could potentially be multiplied and applied to other similar city venues — to the demand for new places for emerging art. Implemented without fanfare or sensation, it is a free and accessible micro-museum.