Interview with Gennaro Leone, senior curator of Boiler Room

Gennaro Leone and Amar Ediriwira curated the Plastic Dreams exhibition for Manifattura Tabacchi, the first Italian project for 4:3, the platform dedicated to video arts and a spin-off from Boiler Room, an international leader in club culture.

The show was inaugurated during the B9 opening party, 21 June 2019, and closed on 20 July with the fantastic Boiler Room Party: international DJs and local talents shaked the walls of B9 with their music, the show was streamed on the Boiler Room channels, bringing the spaces of Manifattura to people all over the world.

“Everything we do is rooted in the energy of club culture and its ability to bring people together. Open dancefloors; where music, ideas and people meet.” Gennaro Leone

How did the collaboration with Boiler Room start and what does it mean to be a curator for Boiler Room?

A good friend from Bleep/Warp Records introduced me to Raj, former head of music, and four years later I’m still here. Being a curator for Boiler Room means lots of events, artists, calls, emails, journeys – lots of fun – but a lot of work.

How would you explain to your uncle what Boiler Room and 4:3 do?

Actually, last week I was genuinely trying to explain it to him. Using the same words: Boiler Room is a company that organises filmed events all over the world and 4:3 is a new project from Boiler Room for the world of video. Nicknamed “the Netflix of the underground”, the platform explores themes of performance, identity, youth and anti-establishment culture. Since its launch in June 2018, 4:3 has collaborated with an eclectic range of artists such as Flying Lotus, Holly Blakey, Janelle Monae, Charles Atlas, Jenn Nkiru, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Elijah Wood, Peaches, John Akomfrah and Leilah Weinraub.

Were the videos chosen based on the spaces? What was the idea behind the show?

When Amar and I (creative director of 4:3) had the chance to see the Manifattura, we immediately lost ourselves in these immense, industrial spaces – the first thing that came to our minds was “let’s do a rave here!”. When we went back to London, the idea was to combine the activities of Boiler Room and 4:3, we had lots of videos about rave / sub-culture which we’d never had the opportunity to project, above all, in the way that they were presented at Manifattura Tabacchi.

Did you know about the Manifattura before collaborating for Plastic Dreams?

I’d heard lots of Florentine friends talking about it and the project seemed really interesting, but 6 months ago I had the pleasure of seeing it and it was love at first site for both the location and the team here.

What do you think about the Manifattura Tabacchi regeneration project?

I think it’s a really beautiful project with an international scope. The programme is serious, contemporary, inclusive, it’s not banal and there’s an atmosphere of sharing and respect. We could do with more ‘Manifatturas’ in Italy.