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Real life art without the masks: Italian dealer sidesteps pandemic with drive-through exhibition

Massimo Minini and BelleArti are opening a show of 16 site-specific works in an underground car park in Brescia

Massimo Minini is opening a show of 16 site-specific works in an underground car park in Brescia Photo: Rapuzzi

“Everyone is now taking refuge in the web, but I am tired of the internet,” says Italian art dealer Massimo Minini. This is why he has devised an “antivirus-exhibition” in an underground car park in Brescia, that doesn’t require face masks or social distancing measures despite inhabiting a very physical space in the offline world. From 21 June the car park—owned by the insurance company Generali, the main sponsor of the project—will turn into the stage of a “drive-through” exhibition that can be only viewed from the seat of your own car.

Minini—the founder of an eponymous gallery in Brescia and the president of BelleArti, an organisation that aims to promote contemporary art across the Northern Italian city— has invited 16 artists to create site-specific works for Art Drive-In Generali including Mimmo Paladino, Stefano Arienti, Giovanni Gastel and Olivo Barbieri. “The group show doesn’t have an overall theme and the artists have been given total freedom to create whatever they wish,” he explains.

When conceiving this project, Minini says he had in mind a landmark historical precedent: an exhibition that Achille Bonito Oliva curated in Villa Borghese’s car park in Rome in 1973, which is considered an important moment in Italian and international exhibition history.

No closing date has been set for the Brescia show and Minini plans to include more works by early 2021. “This is an exhibition that is not just a temporary show but claims to become a permanent display,” adds Minini. “Artists and works are meant to stay there, like frescoes in a church”.