Time line

The recent history of contemporary art projects in the Isola can be divided into three legs: Isola Art Project 2001, Isola dell’arte 2003, Isola Art Center 2005.

2001 - 2003
Isola Art Project sprang out of the activities of the neighborhood workshop Cantieri Isola. In this initial phase the project focused on the neighborhood’s public spaces. A small number of artists and curators developed the project: Bert Theis, Stefano Boccalino, Gruppo A12, Marco Scottini, Roberto Pinto, and Emanuela De Cecco. A collaboration was born between the non-profit spaces “Care of”, “Via Farini”, and the artists Marjetica Potrc, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Stalker.

2003 - 2005
Isola dell’arte came to light in February of 2003 through the augmentation of the initial group which came to encompass about thirty artists, critics, curators, publishers, and directors of Milanese and Italian museums. The association met in the spaces of the OUT office, born one year before. From 2003 Isola dell’arte organized a series of one day artistic events, “Thousand and one nights” (title suggested by Francesca Pasini). During the first event a congress was organized with international participation on the theme “What spaces for contemporary art”.

During that same year Isola dell’arte participated in the exhibit “Fragments d’un discourse italien” held at the Geneva Mamco, with works by A12, Stefano Arienti, Stefano Boccalini, Gabriele di Matteo, Eva Marisaldi, Liliana Moro, out (Alessandro di Giampietro, Lorenzo Rocha-Cito), Adrian Paci, Luca Pancrazzi, Steve Piccolo, Andrea Sala, Gak Sato, Mariette Schiltz, Grazia Toderi,, Cesare Viel, Luca Vitone. Again in 2003 a document signed by all the neighborhood associations in the Isola asking to save the “Stecca building” and the parks, and proposing the creation of an art center was submitted to the City Council, the Neighborhood Council, and to all the Councilmen.

Isola Art Center is the outcome of two years work on the second floor of the “Stecca building”. By 2005 the Art Center was no longer a hope but a reality, and now its right to exist can be defended. The artistic events are no longer limited to one-day exhibits or conferences, but exhibits are held lasting several weeks. Almost every month a new exhibit or initiative is inaugurated. The exposition space has been augmented and the café “Ginoteca” was established (dedicated to Luigi Veronelli).
Isola Art Center hosted in his 1500 square meters at the 2. floor of the Stecca building the groups Sugoe (curated by Bert Theis and Alessandra Poggianti), Stazione Isola (curated by Katia Anguelova and Stefano Boccalini), Love Difference (Fondazione Pistoletto), the out office (Bert Theis, Alice Pintus, Alberto Pesavento)and the project kkk by artist Alessandro Ceresoli (curated by Alessandra Poggianti)
Finally, in 2006, the involvement with the neighborhood associations has brought up a brand new concept: a center dedicated to art and the community: Isola Art & Community Center.

In April 2007 the police kicked out the craftsmen, the associations and other persons of “La Stecca”, in order to hand it over to the multinational real estate company “Hines”. The official pretext fort he operation was the presence of drug-dealers in the building. The destruction of the building started immediately. Many artworks were destroyed or damaged. But a large political protest stopped the total destruction of the factory.

In July 2007 the inhabitants of Isola won the first trial against the city government of Milano. The tribunal cancelled the permission to build the shopping mall on the Isola Parks.

27 exhibitions presented works of more than 200 Italian and International artists, 13 special projects and 26 lectures and discussions. The center sold artworks donated by artists in order to pay the lawyers of the district associations. A network of artists, curators, musicians, philosophers and art school has elaborated and experimented an innovative concept of a Center for Art and Neigborhood located in Isola parks.

In April 2007 the city government and real estate multinational Hines have cleared the Stecca, evicting Isola Art Center and the craftspeople and associations, subsequently proceeding to the demolition of the building. The operation was aimed at delivering the Stecca and park to the corporation, so as to develop new buildings summing up to over 90.000 m3. The latest project for the area, signed by Boeri Studio, involves underground parking lots, luxury dwellings and two tree-covered towers called “vertical forest” in place of the present park, added to the construction of a 30.000 m3 building with parking lots, offices and a shopping mall to be built by the Italian Ligresti group.

The strong connection of Isola Art Center to the territory has allowed us to survive the eviction and carry on with our activities, using the neighbourhood itself as our acting space. Hosted by other venues, such as associations, shops, public spaces, we have created a field of cooperations eventually engendering new possibilities.
"Isola Rosta Project" presents large format images by Italian and international artists painted on the shutters of the Isola district. This ongoing project is carried out with the help of professionals and international institutions as well as with the aid of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. The Center for Art and Neigborhood continues its contruction hosted by local spaces, associations, shops and restaurants in solidarity with the opposition to the pharaonical real estate development plans, to speculation and to the gentrification of the district.

The privatization of the gardens three years ago has left the Isola district without a public park, without a space for families, for sports and for recreational activities for children, young and older people, without a dogs area.
Isola Art Center plans to fulfill the old dream of the Forum Isola intside a new green space with a pavilion for art and community, self-made by the inhabitants in association. Isola Art Center is pursuing this project together with Isola Pepe Verde and other associations from the district.

International petition to the government of the City of Milan: Don’t destroy the Isola Art Center!

ISOLA ART CENTER, some recent activities 2011-2012
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