Within the context of Parla Ascolta Guarda Fai, we invited the New York-based artist Lele Saveri to take part in the project with a solo exhibition, curated by Fantom’s Selva Barni, and a public presentation of his work Hong Kong Barricades, published by Humboldt Books in 2019.
Lele Saveri moved to Hong Kong in October 2014 to work as a teacher. As soon as he landed, he immediately noticed the streets were blocked by ingenious temporary structures. Those days saw the beginning of what would go down in history as the Umbrella Revolution: thousands of people, led by a group of students, took to the streets to protest against the electoral reform, and for their rights. Saveri understood he was standing before a historic event, thus decided to spend the rest of his journey in the streets, getting in touch with the people and taking photographs. The barricades, made of communion rails, bamboo, cartons and everyday materials, built up rapidly, easily adapting to the urban environment. They soon became the symbol of the determination and resilience of demonstrators, the icon of a protest which, since 1997, is still more than alive today.
The exhibition took place by the brutalist stairs built inside the Triennale in 1964 by Carlo Ramous, with the architects Carlo Bassi and Goffredo Boschetti. Its set up was inspired by the Freedom Walls, the facades of Hong Kong’s buildings converted into free spaces for information and expression during the protests.
Contextually to the opening, on December 17th, Saveri presented the eponymous book published by Humboldt Books in 2019 in a public conversation with curator Selva Barni of Fantom, Humboldt Books’ founder Giovanna Silva, and journalist Antonio Talia. The book features a text by Joshua Wong – the leader of the Umbrella Movement, nominated for the Nobel Peace Price in 2017 – which addresses the genesis of a fight for democracy, emancipation and, more in general, a fight against oppression. The evening concluded with the performance ASSEMBLY 1.5.2 by Giorgio Di Salvo and Rocco Rampino, curated by Davide Giannella for Parla Ascolta Guarda Fai.
Lele Saveri was born in Rome. Since 2010 he has lived in New York, working as a photographer and a teacher. Co-founder of 8-Ball Community, an editorial and artistic collective, he has a great passion for photography and printing techniques, which he cultivates through creative partnerships based on the DIY (‘do-it-yourself’) principle. Besides publishing books and curating events and exhibitions – among which The Newsstand, an installation of fanzines and independent publications staged in the New York subway in 2013-14 –, he has exhibited in institutions and art galleries all over the world, including the MoMA in New York, the Foam Museum in Amsterdam, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris and the gallery Viasaterna in Milan.
Parla Ascolta Guarda Fai is the interdisciplinary programme of installations, exhibitions, performances, screenings, workshops and projects curated by Fantom and Davide Giannella for Triennale Milano, under the artistic direction of Umberto Angelini, and coordinated for Fantom by Selva Barni and Benedetta Pomini.
Lele Saveri, Hong Kong Barricades Curated by Selva Barni/Fantom for Parla Ascolta Guarda Fai Artistic Direction: Umberto Angelini Curated by Davide Giannella and Massimo Torrigiani/Fantom 18th December 2019 – 19th January 2020 Triennale Milano