Mailand Kultur

My New Office. Pasquale Leccese

If you were strolling in a library and found a book with the title MY NEW OFFICE, what would you imagine? This book could be in the Arts, Philosophy, or maybe also in the Interiors section. It is about a man that has offices everywhere in the world. Not those offices that you rent such as Desk near me, Instant offices, or Office for lease. The places that he cast around are situated in the middle of everything: advertising messages, life, chaos, waste, vacation spots, vendors' protest, and nature, from Ostuni to Los Angeles.

Besides a myriad of moments from Leccese’s offices around the world, the book is also including 8 contributions from inspiring Italian authors, embarking a journey from Shakespeare to Beckett, from Leonid Alekseychuk to Otar Iosseliani, from Martin Kippenberger to John Giorgio, from the flaneurs in France to the ones on the internet.

The book starts with the sentence: Sono sempre alla richercha die una panchina (I am always in search of a seat) and ends with: Space forgets you. My New Office is definitely a manual for questioning life, work, property.

How did the idea of My New Office occur?
Hmm, that was a long time ago. It wasn’t an idea, it was a necessity. The first time this happened, I was after my office/ gallery day on my way home, and I was late. I got a phone call on the street and I saw on my mobile a U.S. number, but I was in the middle of the street with bags from the supermarket. In the corner of the building next to me, I saw a chair and other stuff, almost rubbish, mostly old utensils that people no longer use. I answered the phone and used that chair on the street. My answer was: „Hi! How are you doing? (…) Yes, I’m in my office!!!!!!“ And so I started the conversation from my first new office, after I had more than 120 offices around the world.

How then did you came to the idea of materializing the experienced in a book format?
This idea was born accidentally and for me was a game, a game btw me and the cities, the rules, the offices, the spaces. I like to watch how clochard can live their life with dignity against normal life. I like to see the metaphysic aspect of objects in the cities. Trying to materialize Utopia like in the song of Talking Heads “This must be the place”… “ Share the same space for a minute or two…”

I like to find an abandoned chair in every corner of this world and use it for a minute. During the pandemic, Marco Genzini, a friend, collector, and media manager saw my „Mynewofficeofficial“ on Instagram and was so taken by it. He called me, and he wanted immediately to do the book, and I asked an old friend Gianni Romano, the publisher of Postmediabooks, a small but very cool art publishing house in Milano to help us ! That’ s all !

The book starts and ends with a picture of Milan. Has the city of Milan been changing in all these years (2012 – 2020)?
The city has done a lot to be a European metropolis…. and has tried to preserve the tradition of the cultural capital from Leonardo to Marinetti, and Lucio Fontana.

Even if different people have been taking the photos, one has the feeling they were all taken by a single person. Would you agree?
Maybe, but all of them were the only witnesses of my work for no more than a minute!

The book presents not only pictures of your various offices, but also gripping texts and reflections from authors such as: Eugenio Alberti, Giulia Currà, Chiara Guidi, Alessandro Guerriero, Mariastella Trombetta, Francesca Alfano Miglietti, Simona Squadrito, Mariuccia Casadio. What kind of materials did you provide for the authors?
They are all old friends, all of them were happy to be part of this book, some were also on the streets with me …

Do you plan to translate the book into other languages a day?
Yes, we are preparing for the English version of it.

I have the feeling that after starting to read your book, seeing the photos, it could take a while before recognizing that you are very strongly related to art. I would like to ask you something about your gallery ‚Le Case D’Arte‘. What was your vision? What kind of space did you wanted to create?
Le case d’arte was a tribute to Fortunato Depero (futurist artist 1892-1960) and his idea of LA CASA D’ARTE . My idea was to have a contemporary space and yet with a look into the past, a kind of salotto where artists and clients can meet and talk about the work.

Right now, on the gallery’s website, it is written that the place is under construction. What does it mean?
My gallery opened with an exhibition called WORK IN PROGRESS in 1986, and it has been a work in progress ever since…. My idea is art as a way to connect ideas and people.

What have you been comprehending over the course of the years in the art scene?
The word contaminations is the password of those last years… I will use it for my new space… Music, arts, and poetry are food for the soul. My friend John Giorno did one of his last shows in my gallery: SPACE FORGETS YOU. And I opened my gallery with John Baldessari titled I WILL NOT MAKE ANYMORE BORING ART. Isn’t it funny? All what I learned is thanks to the artists.

My New Office. Corso di Porta Ticinese, Milan. 2017
My New Office. Corso di Porta Ticinese, Milan. 2017

From 2001 – 2007 you were the artistic director of MiArt. What would you like to share about this experience?
I did it because Milano was trying to be in a dialogue with the international art world… at that time, I was sharing my life between Milano and Koeln, so I invited many friends dealers to be part of it.

What is the role of art fairs and will they undergo shifts because of the pandemic? Do we still need them?
I don’t do fairs anymore I was too much addicted to that system, more than 30 years of fairs… Now it’s time to change, no champagne anymore! What we really need are big events like the Venice Biennale or Documenta and this only every 2 – 4 years and most of them should take place in other countries like Africa or Brazil or Japan or India, where curators after a long time of study can show us art and artists… a bit far away from the market or the art system of the last 20 years…

Are there any daily routines of yours?
Well, I’m a compulsive collector of objects. I go out in the morning, and in the evening I always come back with something… Doesn’t matter what!

SPACE FORGETS YOU by John Giorno. Why did you decide to close the book with this sentence? What memories do you share with the artist?
I shared moments in his bunker studio in New York City with John, where we talked about everything from religion to our roots in Southern Italy, to William Burroughs….Then we decided to do a show in Milan. It was a great, unforgettable night. He will be forever in my mind… a real poet.

Address and contact:
Corso di Porta Ticinese 87, 20123 Milano
Instagram: @pasleccese3, @Mynewofficeofficial

Pasquale Leccese (*1957) is among others gallerist, journalist, actor, heritage preserver, author, owner of Le Case D’arte, former artist director of MiArt, founder of the association of Milano Art Galleries (Start Milano), creator of a summer art residency in Ostuni (Bari), tenant of the epochal Buca di San Vincenzo Jazz Club, and Instagram personality.

About the Interviewer: Erka Shalari (*1988, Tirana) is a Vienna-based art author. She focuses on discovering independent young and emerging artists, unconventional exhibition spaces, and galleries that have deliberately broken new ground in their working methods. In this regard, she relies on unorthodox publishing practices, coupling these with a nonchalant manner of writing. The work oscillates between articles for magazines, exhibition texts and press releases.