“Concept Vs Slogan. The Group Show.”Leader:
AtWork Milan was the first experiment that tried to connect two different workshops in one single experience. The first one took place on November 24-25th at Frigoriferi Milanesi in collaboration with FARE, and the second one on November 29-30th in collaboration with Leo Burnett agency at Primo Marella Gallery in Milan, which was also the first AtWork Corporate experience we have implemented. Both workshops were conducted by an exceptional artist Bili Bidjocka, a long-time friend and partner of Moleskine Foundation. An alliance born out of elective affinities through his work of art Ecriture Infinie.
The inspiration for this “double date” was Cadavre Exquis: the collective game by surrealists that gave birth to the idea of infinite writing as a creative form to produce shared meanings as opposed to the individual ones. It is with this spirit that the two workshops titled “Concept vs Slogan. The Group Show. Ecriture Infinie/Cadavre Exquis” put together a group of 13 young creative talents studying various art forms and a group of 10 young advertising professionals. Their experiences took place in two different moments, but were connected.
“There is no prison outside your mind.”
Carlotta Boattini, AtWork Milan participant
The first group opened the game, tackling the idea of the artistic concept as opposed to the advertising one. A musical counterpoint rather than a juxtaposition. The discussion started from the conflictual relationship that is often attributed to these two hemispheres of expression, but the goal was to overcome this stereotype. This point of view of the opposition, of “vs” was questioned. The discussion was not about “right” or “wrong”, but about different ways to be creative in the XXI century. The mixed backgrounds of the participants (artists, musicians, architects, as in the case of the special guest Maurice Pefura) made the debate quite heated and engaging.
As a result of the discussion the participants of the first workshop started their artwork on the Moleskine notebooks were supposed to be finished by the participants of the second workshop from Leo Burnett agency. A sort of “message in a bottle” was supposed to be sent from the first group to the second. During the second workshop the advertising professionals went through the same process and then received the notebooks started by the first workshop that had to be completed. The task was not easy, but in a sense not dissimilar to the advertiser’s everyday challenge: act on an input (brief) received from a client. But this time no rules, the freedom of action was complete. It was interesting to see how that changed the thinking process and their approach to creativity.
“In these two days I did more thinking than in my entire life”
Charlotte Ashcroft AtWork Lab Milan participant
“I really wanted this experience to be conducted by an artist. For it to take us out of the everyday schemes. That’s why I think the choice of Bili Bidjocka was a perfect “surrealist” choice”
Giorgio Brenna, Leo Burnett Italy president
The Cameroonian painter, Bili Bidjocka, was born in 1962 in Douala. He has been living in Paris since 1974 where, after dance and theater, he enrolled at the School of Fine Arts. He considers, for some years now, art as an enigma. The answers brought to him by his teachers at the School of Fine Arts, those certainties etched in the minds of students, have long been revealed as inadequate. His confrontation with market laws, history and his own African identity forced him to see with new eyes the notion of art. After trying painting, he turned to installation and theatrical staging. His pieces begin to function as puzzles, riddles through which he continues the essential examination of the meaning and purpose of creation. Bili Bidjocka participated in many international exhibitions: the Biennales of Johannesburg (1997), Havana (1997), Dakar (2000, 2016), Taipei (2004) and Venice (2007). He presented his work in many museums and art galleries: New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York; ARC Museum of Modern Art of Paris; Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels; Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, Cape Town; and on the occasion of the exhibition Africa Remix and The Divine Comedy by Simon Njami. He is the founder of the creative platform Matrix Art Project (MAP) in Paris, Brussels and New York. In In 2017 he will be part of Documenta in Athens and Kassel.
“We have to kill the VS between the slogan and the concept.”
Bili Bidjocka, AtWork Lab Milan leader
This experience of sharing, of questioning oneself and one’s certainties, of having the two creative outputs speak with each other became an art piece in itself. The participants of the two groups met at the end of the second workshop where they could meet their “nemesis” from the other group and discuss and critique the results of their co-creation. Everyone had to open up to a new idea, an addition or subtraction, to leave their comfort zone and agree on a co-created piece. Art and advertising met on a blind date to create unique works and to break down the barriers separating the two worlds, enriching and contaminating each other.
Giovanni Dall’Avo Manfroni
Theophilus Kwesi Imani
AtWork Lab Milan coordinator:
Beatrice Oleari and Barbara Oteri (FARE)
AtWork Leo Burnett coordinator:
Frigoriferi Milanesi, Galleria Primo Marella
Giorgio Brenna, Simon Njami, Maurice Pefura
Video and Photo Shooting:
Raffaelle Bellezza, Agnieszka Faferek, Sandro Iurini