Global interaction, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

Investigating the relationship between humanity and the environment and identifying the archetypes of the modern era can give us a better understanding of new financial mechanisms, such as the use of cryptocurrency in yachting

by Francesco Michienzi

History of Night and Destiny of Comets is the title chosen by Eugenio Viola, the curator of the Italian pavilion, and artist Gian Maria Tosatti for their exhibition at the Venice Biennale. At the end of my visit, I overheard a visitor complaining to Tosatti that what he has produced is not art. It felt like I was re-watching a scene from Smart Holidays, one of the episodes from Alberto Sordi’s 1978 film Where Are You Going on Holiday? where Remo and Augusta, a pair of Roman tourists clueless about conceptual art, played by Alberto Sordi and Anna Longhi, let their children, who are in their final year at university, organise their holiday. At a certain point in their itinerary, the two tourists end up visiting the 1978 Venice Biennale contemporary art exhibition and are left disappointed and confused. This scene, repeated in dozens of other films, is a cinematographic version of a serious and rather frequent misunderstanding that underpins manifold discussions on how to interpret a work of art, the existence of a shared ideal of beauty, and, in general, how to define what constitutes art. Tosatti, with great patience, tried to explain the meaning of his work at the Biennale.


The Rome-based artist uses a collection of objects and environments to tell a bitter story, producing dystopian scenes far removed from the optimism of the Italian post-war economic miracle. The work is full of spatial ambiguity and a strong sense of instability, constantly questioning how we can both accommodate the power of memory and make space for remembering. Tosatti is like an archaeologist of the present, who enjoys cannibalising the rubble of Italy’s industrial civilisation, studying its abandoned objects, and recontextualising them. To create the work, the artist visited many Italian factories – closed, bankrupt, and operational – and collected the stories of those who experience or experienced them, including those etched into the machines by those who worked them. Then he bought those parts and brought them to the Arsenale. Tosatti has successfully transformed this salvaged equipment into true sculptures with a simultaneously ambivalent and melancholy power. If you breathed in deeply enough, it almost felt like you could still make out the oily smell, the final legacy of when the machinery was in use.

Tosatti’s art investigates themes linked to the concept of both political and spiritual identity, delving into the relationship between humanity and the environment and identifying the archetypes of the modern era. The artist was supported by the Sanlorenzo shipyard, the main sponsor of the Italian pavilion at the Biennale. The event also provided an opportunity to reflect on the numerous changes occurring in the yachting world. Sanlorenzo is developing a series of interactive projects combining art and yachting, tackling topics including sustainability, the environment, technology, nature, the sea, and – most importantly – humanity, through the sensitivity of artists, designers, architects, and creatives. The firm is promoting itself as a genuine producer of culture and design, and is seeking to create and support these values and spread them across the world.

As Massimo Perotti stated: «We are witnessing a new renaissance that places contemporary culture at the heart of society and industry, where art is an increasingly effective way to reflect the difficulties and contradictions of our civilisation. Venice and the Italian Pavilion at Biennale Arte 2022 are an exceptional global showcase: a synthesis of the creativity and energy that Italy expresses and a highly talented young artist like Gian Maria Tosatti, who was chosen as the sole interpreter of this space».


I agree wholeheartedly with Massimo Perotti regarding the way culture holds a mirror to the enormous contradictions in our society, including ethics and business transparency. This does not apply to Sanlorenzo, which is quoted on the Milan Stock Exchange, and so is subject to strict monitoring by CONSOB, the Italian Companies, and Exchange Commission. However, there are increasing numbers of businesses in the nautical sector, which are accepting cryptocurrency for boat sales.

Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, was crystal clear on the matter: «My very humble assessment is that it [cryptocurrency] is worth nothing. It is based on nothing, there is no underlying asset to act as an anchor of safety». Lagarde has called on institutions to step in and regulate the sector, predominantly to provide a safety net for less expert investors, who risk suffering huge losses. This worry has been exacerbated by the torrid period that crypto assets are currently experiencing, with the leading cryptocurrency having lost over half of its value from the historic highs reached in November.

 «I’m concerned about those people who think it’s going to be a reward, who have no understanding of the risks, who will lose it all, and who will be disappointed, which is why I believe that the market should be regulated», she said. Is accepting cryptocurrency for yacht sales a sign of modernity? Or an effective way of hiding the origin and source of the money? Not to mention the fact that, as economist Fabio Panetta, who sits on the ECB’s executive board, states, anyone who invests in cryptocurrency must be prepared to lose all their investment.

(Global interaction – – July 2022)