Interview with Laura Giordano, head of FERCAM Fine Art in Turin

Interview with Laura Giordano, head of FERCAM Fine Art in Turin

Following a long experience, first in Gondrand and then in FERCAM, Laura became head of the Fine Art department in Turin in April, last year, in an undoubtedly particular and challenging moment. The entire museum sector in the spring of 2020 was in fact blocked by anti-Covid restrictions...

How did you live this anomalous period?

Our customers are mainly museums and in part galleries, which have been closed to the public for months due to the pandemic. Everything we had already organized has been cancelled or postponed, from exhibition projects to exhibition programs. It was a very hard period, without points of reference and with activities reduced to a minimum.
However, we tried to find all possible opportunities to get up, such as collaborations with institutions that took advantage of the break period to carry out internal reorganization of the collections and maintenance activities. The key was to be able to guarantee continuity for our team and prepare for future steps, to recover as soon as possible.

Can we say that the beginning of 2021 has been a turning point?

A nice sign of hope came in January, when one of our most important customers, Palazzo Madama in Turin, entrusted us with the organization of an exhibition dedicated to reliquary busts of saints from the region and neighbouring territories. We therefore ventured between snow and Covid restrictions, in Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta, but also in Switzerland and France, to collect these precious medieval works, which can be visited until next summer. We found it a courageous choice by the Museum, it is a symbolic gesture for the exhibition sector, in my opinion.

With the National Gallery of the Marche, located inside the Ducal Palace in Urbino, we managed the return of a traveling exhibition whose collection had already been entrusted to us for an exhibition in Turin. This is an exhibition of Renaissance majolica, for which our carpentry had created specially designed crates, with drawers, to ensure an efficient transport in total safety. We have also started a collaboration with Reale Mutua, which often promotes cultural initiatives in Piedmont, for a prestigious project, which we hope will continue and give rise to future collaborations. We also recently set up and dismantled Artissima at the GAM in Turin, a large annual art fair, which this year was organized in a more contained format in various locations of the Turin Museums Foundation.

We trust that these projects can represent the first steps of a real restart: we have a lot of passion for our work and great expertise to offer, the slowed pace of 2020 is not for us!

FERCAM Fine Art is a female-dominated BU: is there a particular reason, in your opinion?

I wondered too! Actually, here in Turin I have a colleague with whom I have been collaborating very well for several years. He worked first a driver and then moved on to carry out organizational activities in the office, so my first daily confrontation is with him. However, it is true that with regard to planning activities in our entire field, not only at FERCAM, there are many women, I would dare to estimate a percentage close to 80%. Surely, this job requires a lot of organization and precision, the ability to read situations at 360°. As a mother, I would say that there are experiences that help women to develop this ability in a particular way, the habit of having an overview on the entire situation, to keep various aspects under control at the same time.

As a mother, how do you live the balance between work and private life?

The first time I went on maternity leave, I chose to be absent for a longer period and therefore when I resumed my activity I felt a little "rusty". I dedicated all my energy to keep updated and come back at the best of my abilities. When I had my second child I decided to keep in greater contact with the activities of the team and to return to work in a shorter time. It is not easy to combine everything and I am grateful to be able to take advantage of a part-time job, so that I can also take care of the needs of my children.

Luckily, technology allows us to continue working even outside the office, which means that the boundaries between private life and work are becoming more blurred, but it is an opportunity at the same time, because personally I do not work only to fulfil responsibilities, but also because what we do thrills me. This way, I can guarantee continuity, keep an eye on what is happening and intervene promptly if necessary, even at unusual times.

Have you experimented agile working? What do you think about it?

We have experimented smartworking during the lockdown and on an IT level we have not encountered any obstacles. The part of our work that has to do with quotes requests, planning and communication is almost completely done digitally, by phone or by email, so it is manageable regardless of where you are physically. Then there are all the activities that have to do with the physical and technical dimension of the management of the works, from inspection to warehouse operations, which naturally require to be present on site. Undoubtedly, working remotely helps in the more dynamic management of family activities, but it is not easy to maintain concentration when children are home and require attention. I think it is certainly applicable to our work, at least in part, but it is not for everyone, everyone should find their own balance. In my opinion, what remains fundamental is the human contact between colleagues, the possibility of being able to discuss and inspire each other. We must not let the potential of technology tear us apart and transform into alienation.
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