#ListeAsks Maurizio Morra Greco, Collector, President of Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples

Maurizio Morra Greco, Credit: Camillo Ripaldi
Maurizio Morra Greco, Credit: Camillo Ripaldi

As you won’t be in Basel this June, what are you doing instead?
I was very much looking forward to coming to Basel this year, it is the one thing I actually always look forward to. Being in Naples this June, I will be splitting my time, as usual, between my studio and my foundation. After three months of lockdown, we are happy to be reopening the Fondazione’s spaces on 25 June with a selection of film and video works from my collection. It is such a remarkable thing to me to see such a good number of works that I have collected over the years all in one space! It is also a great opportunity for people in Naples, and everyone visiting, to see works that haven’t really been shown here. There are some iconic pieces that have shaped our cultural landscape forever and that have been shown in great institutions around the world such as "Fiorucci Made me Hardcore" by Mark Leckey or "Elvis and Wein & Mozart" by Jonas Mekas, for which this exhibition borrows its title from.

What is something that you never thought would happen but that has now happened as a result of the lockdown?
During the lockdown—and because of the lockdown I believe—people have turned the notion of solitude into a concept of solidarity. The world at large has shown us that human beings have been reflected a lot during these times, and so has the artworld. Overall, there is a reinvigorated urgency to express ourselves, to share, to be active, to take action. This pause, and being connected through the world wide web, has brought a new sense of awareness of the tasks and the effort we need to put into things. Time being precious is something we underestimate sometimes, and it’s the greatest lesson of all.

In what ways has the current state of uncertainty and unpredictability changed your attitude or approach towards collecting? 
I am certainly more aware of traveling being more difficult. And in this sense, this confinement that forces me to stay in my country has given me more time to invest in my city. But in retrospect, not much has changed, because, as a collector, I have always tried to focus on supporting local and young artists as much as international or established ones. What has forced me to stay still has also helped me with staying focused: Hitting the “pause button” was inevitably, for me, a moment to reflect on things.

What kinds of actions do you think are most needed and/or most effective in supporting young artists during the current situation?
Looking back on the past months, there is a sense of loss, where all our “physical” activities have been interrupted. Artists have had to pause many projects, and therefore many opportunities to gain visibility. They have also been struggling with their everyday lives. But the digital world has been an incredible recipient of ideas, projects and conversations. The mental activity and creative energy have not been paused. My support translates into being present, doing virtual studio visits if/when real-life ones are not possible, supporting artists’ work nevertheless, and keeping conversations alive with artists, curators and other collectors.

How can younger and less established galleries that are representing emerging and yet-to-be-discovered artists approach you as a collector in a time of online-only exhibitions, fairs, etc.?
During the lockdown, I received artists images and news via emails and over the phone. I saw online projects and artists’ studios that were virtually shared by galleries’ platforms. Despite this being a time of digital momentum, to me it is difficult to judge or even fall in love with a work of art through a screen. This is a transitional moment and I hope things will fall in place soon. We will be opening the Fondazione’s spaces this month and I hope this will be a positive message, both to the city, as small as it is, and to those who follow us from afar. Our mission now is to keep up with the good work and restore the "physical" experience as much as we can.

Have you discovered any new artists during the lockdown?
The one thing I was looking forward to doing, once the lockdown was over, was going back to the studio of Luca Gioacchino Di Bernardo, a Neapolitan artist who showed at the Fondazione in December. We have now finalized the acquisition of an extensive body of work by the artist, and I am proud it is included in my ever-growing collection.

Can you tell us about the very first artwork you purchased at Liste and what it means to you?
To this day, I remember one of my first purchases and to me it represents to the ideal Liste experience: It is a sculpture by a very young Cathy Wilkes bought from Giti Nourbakhsch, a splendid German gallery whose artistic programme always interested me very much. Giti was a great gallerist and I miss her a lot. That moment marks the perfect balance between my youth as a collector and the originality of Liste's cultural position.

Cathy Wilkes, The Psychologist, 2001, Sunbed, puzzle, fabric elements, variable parts, 40 x 210 x 60 cm. Gallery: Giti Nourbakhsch
Cathy Wilkes, The Psychologist, 2001, Sunbed, puzzle, fabric elements, variable parts, 40 x 210 x 60 cm. Gallery: Giti Nourbakhsch