As a celebration of global contemporary art, the opening of the Venice Biennale in May 2019 provided the ideal backdrop for the formal signing of a three-year research agreement between UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and La Fondazione Morra, a major art centre in Naples. The first formal agreement between the Faculty and an Italian cultural institution, it also paves the way for further engagement, collaboration and exchange between institutions.

“Our association with Fondazione Morra creates new opportunities for UVic scholars and artists to explore contemporary art from a multidisciplinary and global perspective,” says Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts and current Acting Associate Vice-President Academic Planning. “The partnership will inform our faculty’s research and creative practice, and enhance the impact of our work abroad.”

Visual Arts chair Paul Walde with Fondazione Morra founder Giuseppe Morra in Venice’s Piazza San Marco

Preeminent archives and collections

Founded in 1969, the Foundation—along with its 2016 addition of the purpose-built museum, Casa Morra—is one of the most important archives of contemporary artistic and cultural production in the region and beyond. The Morra Foundation houses preeminent archives and collections documenting post-1945 theatre, painting, photography, sculpture, music, sound and concrete poetry, and conceptual and performance art.

Fine Arts will support faculty travel to Naples—including through the Orion Endowment in Fine Arts—where the Fondazione Morra will provide apartments and access to its rich archives and collections. A related agreement to support student activities was signed earlier this year. The agreement builds on collaborations initiated by Dr. Allan Antliff of UVic’s Art History & Visual Studies department, and includes plans to establish a field school and symposia. Fine Arts also plans to host a visit by Fondazione Morra director Teresa Carnevale and founder Giuseppe Morra over the next year.

“This moment creates an unprecedented joint venture that allows us to focus the attention of the Foundation on students by offering them a unique and intense experience made of crossings, connections, journeys and intersections . . . with a perspective on the future,” noted Morra director Teresa Carnevaleas the agreement was signed in Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco.

A transformational partnership

Fondazione Morra founder Giuseppe Morra and director Teresa Carnevale with UVic’s Susan Lewis in Venice’s Piazza San Marco

These agreements are a key example of the Faculty’s efforts to engage globally, promote student mobility and exchange, and share the impact of its research and creative practice on a world scale. Dean Susan Lewis first visited the Fondazione Morra in June 2018 to explore a potentially transformative faculty-wide partnership, and Visual Arts chair Paul Walde will be the first faculty member to visit the Fondazione Morra under the new agreement.

“Giuseppe Morra is a key figure in the presentation, promotion and development of international contemporary art in Italy,” says Walde. “The Morra collection and archive is world-class and this ground-breaking agreement provides our faculty and students unprecedented access to these extraordinary materials.”

Describing the new partnership as of “great cultural value,” director Carnevale says she sees the Fondazione Morra as “a driving and support element for students from all over the world,” and is excited to make the archives and collections of Casa Morra available to UVic’s faculty and students.