Maria Gloria Bicocchi at art/tapes/22. Copyright of art/tapes/22 and Archivio Gianni Melotti.

Maria Gloria Bicocchi is a promotional force in the field of video art in Italy since the early 70s. Picasso, de Chirico and Stravinsky visited her family home and her father Primo Conti – a versatile artist who worked in the fields of painting, poetry and music. Bicocchi’s engagement with art thus traces its story to her childhood. With her architect husband – Giancarlo, she established an influential platform for video art in Florence where numerous international artists such as Daniel Buren, Giuseppe Chiari, curator Diego Cortez, Peter Hutchinson, Takahiko Iimura, Les Levine, Alvin Lucier, Urs Lüthi, Nam June Paik, Arnulf Rainer, Marina Abramović, etc. created their work. We are thrilled to present a short interview with this incredible arts promoter.

LUCIJA ŠUTEJ: You come from an artistic family, your father was renowned artist Primo Conti – how did your journey in the promotion of the visual arts, specifically video, begin?

MARIA GLORIA BICOCCHI: It was by complete chance, I heard about Gerry Shum’s work in Düsseldorf and I just started without knowing anything. It was an adventure.

LŠ: In late 1972 you established distribution, production and archival video platform – art/tapes/22, with your husband Giancarlo in Florence. Designed not solely as a gallery but a functional studio, you encouraged artistic experimentation and research. Was there a specific vision set out for your platform?

MGB: I grew together with my work. There were no programmes, no knowledge, only a big energy.

LŠ: The studio was active for four years from 1972 – who were the very first artists you worked with?

MGB: The first artists were Giuseppe Chiari and Vincenzo Agnetti. Followed immediately by Vito Acconci, who produced with us five video works.

LŠ: Have you worked with Gerry Schum? Was his Fernsehgalerie Gerry Schum and later Videogalerie Schum, an important project partner/ inspiration for your studio?

MGB: I heard of the Videogalerie and by then his wife was in charge after his passing. Both were registered in film and afterwards turned their activity to video, while art/tapes/22 only worked with video art.

LŠ: How important was Arte Fiera Bologna as opposed to other art fairs for the visibility of your studio?

MGB: One of our first public apparitions was at the Arte Fiera in Bologna and I was a guest of Paolo Cardazzo’s representation at the event. I also made a speech in Graz at Trigon 73.

LŠ: You worked with Paolo Cardazzo, who together with his sister Gabriella lead the historic Venetian commercial art gallery – Galleria del Cavallino. Cavallino also actively engaged in the promotion and production of video art. Were there any other collaborations from their side with your institution?

MGB: I worked with some of Paolo Cardazzo’s artists and Paolo was the only collector of video art at that moment, together with his friend Luigi Rossi.

LŠ: Lola Bonora of Centro Videoarte in the Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, was also an important promoter of video art in Italy during that period. Have you worked together on any projects? Or with Richard Demarco, arts promoter from Scotland?

MGB: I knew Lola Bonora and Richard Demarco but never worked with them directly. With Demarco, we participated at an art festival in Scotland. I also collaborated with Biljana Tomić and I met artists like Marina Abramović through Paolo Cardazzo.

LŠ: Gianni Melotti was a photographer at art/tapes/22, while artist Bill Viola was the director. Just how involved were the artists in the activity of your studio?

MGB: They all became good friends and lived with our family during their stay in Florence.

LŠ: Ileana Sonnabend introduced you to Vitto Acconci. What other gallerists have you worked with to realise the artworks of numerous artists that passed through the doors of art/tapes/22? Leo Castelli and Lucio Amelio come to mind.

MGB: With Lucio I indeed produced Beuys’ video and I was a guest of Leo Castelli at an at fair in Düsseldorf, where we together won the prize for “new tendency”.

Clip from Joseph Beuys' Vitex agnus castus, filmed at art/tapes/22. Copyright of art/tapes/22 and Archivio Gianni Melotti.
Daniel Buren's Recouvrant Effaçant (1974) in Florence. Copyright of art/tapes/22 and Archivio Gianni Melotti.
Arnulf Rainer's Confrontation with my video image (1974). Copyright of art/tapes/22 and Archivio Gianni Melotti.
Vito Acconci's Theme Song (1973) at art/tapes/22. Copyright of art/tapes/22 and Archivio Gianni Melotti.