It might be because of that deep masochism of mine. Because half of the people behind the stalls of Fruit, the Independent publishers’ fair at Palazzo Re Enzo, act just like the stereotypical hipsters: wearing that impeccably assembled vintage outfits and fake-carelessly showing off that perfect haircuts (or mustache), they look at you with genuine disgust and ask you with their eyes: «What are you doing here, you dumb idiot/mainstream bitch?». The other half is still made of hipsters but they act more nicely. Some even smile (they must be on drugs, or really want you to buy something. Just kidding).
And yet this is my favorite part of the crazy Artefiera/Artcity week end. Not just because I’m an accomplished masochist. Also because I love what they embrace, endorse, display and sell. Paper. And matter. Sheer pure honest raw paper. Touchable printable material matter.
Despite being 99% millenials, you really see few of the guys at Fruit handling a smartphone: they’re all reading a book (even underlying with a pencil!) and having their hands busy with ink, block notes of any shape, limited-edition diaries and books, Munari-inspired image books, art-books made of recycled paper, t-shirts, handwritings, litographies, pins, papers, rubber-stamps. I also saw a couple of audiotapes. Yes, there’s also a section on game design, and yet it seems to be relegated in a corner, geographically and spiritually. Much more important are the screening of a documentary on the tools of graphic design pre-internet, the workshop on ideograms, the pre-Facebook flyer-art for supporting street protests. PRE seems to be the pre-requisite (pun intended) of this fair.
The large main room of Palazzo Re Enzo, its tall walls with big windows and its huge chandeliers host a lively congregation of crafty creatives, most in their mid-twenties and early-thirties, all selling tiny useless colorful hand-made or highly conceptual little items (from postcards to posters, from limited edition comics to independent magazines) I’d love to possess and most of all I am fascinated by. It must be because I wanted to study art at school and studied literature instead, or because when I was working for a magazine I was among the writers but was also fascinated by the craftiness and creativity of graphic designers (and everyone here is either an artist, an art graduate, an art student or a graphic designer), or because they tickle my fetishistic side (even business cards are lovely and worth collecting). I don’t know, whatever it is, I both love this place and feel slightly intimidated by it. Yes, young hipsters intimidate me far more than successful art dealers and posh curators.
Oh, before I forget. Of course this being the coolest place af Artcity they also have the coolest catering. And this is a moment of pride for me too, because both caterers here at Fruit were featured in an article I wrote (TWO YEARS AGO: suck it Portlandia) about Italy’s most interesting food trucks . One is Cucinando su ruote, a hemp-friendly vegan chef from Piemonte, the other is Rome’s pink and popular Pizza e mortazza. Yes, vegan and mortadella: what could be more hipsterly “ironic” than this?