Last year, artist Jamie Sneider launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a residency program and exhibition space she hoped to open in Lecce, a rural city in the Puglia region of Italy. The campaign may have seemed like a moonshot, but it yielded $16,715, and in January, the artist, then based in New York, found a location for her project space, which she’s called Progetto.
Now the space is a reality—it’s up and running, having opened today with an exhibition of work by the New York– and Mexico City–based artist ektor garcia. The show, titled “fortaleza,” runs through August 31, and it features ceramic works the artist created during his month-long residency with Progetto, along with doilies made of crocheted copper wires.
Sneider first traveled to Puglia five years ago for research related to her own artistic practice, and she was immediately enamored of the region’s natural landscape. Soon she was soon telling friends and colleagues to come experience the region as well, wondering all the while whether a new contemporary art space could thrive in an ancient place steeped in tradition.
“That’s something that I continually hear about: a battle with the inherent art history of Italy,” she told ARTnews.
Existing contemporary galleries in the area, including Like a Little Disaster in Polignano a Mare, Spazio Murat in Bari, and Studio Concreto in Lecce, supported Sneider in her endeavor to join their community.
“I think Puglia’s on the precipice of something really exciting,” Sneider said. “You can afford to do things here, and with this kind of space mentally and physically away from everybody doing everything, you can reinvent the way that a contemporary art gallery can live in 2019.” The artist is now based in Lecce.
Progetto comprises four airy rooms and a total of 2,300 square feet, and Sneider said that visiting artists can utilize the space as they choose. She wants artists to take risks there—to “come here and have a sense of freedom, even to fail.”
Artists showing at Progetto can choose to stay in an apartment attached to the gallery for one month before their show opens. Sneider hopes that the residency program can serve as an introduction to local crafts and artisans, noting that Lecce is a small city, accessible and navigable without a car.
“Whatever they need, I want to make it happen,” she said. “There’s a journey when you’re making a show. You go through having no clue to being positive and negative about the work to wanting to research, and I just try to give space and understand that.”
Sneider is preparing an exhibition of video work for Progetto’s second show, though she said the space could lend itself to a variety of presentations, including contemporary dance performances. The space is growing and evolving, Sneider said. “I’m defining it constantly.”