Since 1993 Fondazione Prada’s activities have analyzed intentions and relevance through an evolution of projects. These have included ‘Utopian’ monographic artist commissions, contemporary philosophy conferences, research exhibitions and initiatives related to the field of cinema. Being active in three permanent venues in Milan and Venice, inaugurated between 2011 and 2016, and, as of 2018, also in three external spaces in Shanghai, Tokyo and New York, Fondazione Prada offers new opportunities to expand and enrich our learning processes.
‘What is a cultural institution for?’ This is the central question of today. We embrace the idea that culture is deeply useful and necessary as well as attractive and engaging. Culture should help us with our everyday lives and understand how we, and the world, are changing. This assumption is key for Fondazione’s activities.
Our main interest are ideas, and the ways in which mankind has transformed ideas into specific disciplines and cultural products: literature, cinema, music, philosophy, art and science. Each field is afforded its autonomy, but all have the same overall aim: expanding the range of knowledge. They co-exist with one another, leading to unpredictable resonances and cultural intersections.
An attitude of openness and invitation characterizes the political mood of Fondazione Prada. We assert the possibility of participation at all levels for all generations. We try to find new ways to share ideas. Attempts to redefine education programs will go alongside a strong commitment to scientific dissemination. Another possible question is how a contemporary art institution can engage with the cinema without becoming a film festival.
Arts and cultural expressions are Fondazione’s given instruments of working and learning. A territory of freethinking in which established, indelible figures – as well as emerging approaches – are welcomed. Culture is conceived as a resource of perspectives and of potential energy. We invite different kinds of people to provide new interpretations of undetected ideas: curators, artists, and architects but also scientists and students, thinkers and writers.
This emphasis on range and repertoire of knowledge is reflected explicitly in the spatial composition of Milan’s premises of Fondazione Prada in Milan. Formerly a distillery dating back to the 1910s, its transformation led to an architectural configuration that combines preexisting buildings with three new structures. The result is a campus of post-industrial and new spaces, alternately intimate and expansive, while the courtyards provide a common public ground, open to the city. This rich spatial array encourages quick and improvised reactions to cultural stimuli.
Fondazione’s institutional structure embodies the overall aim towards reinvention. It is an open structure where ideas are freely exchanged between the Presidents, the internal departments, the independent curators and researchers and the Thought Council, a group of individuals invited to engage with the program for different durations of time. These and other contributions and voices bring to the process their own unique views on the present moment.