by Franca

This work has been commented by 1 curator(s). Read the comments





Concept author(s)

Franca Formenti

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

I I conceived the project is in the conceptual than in the bureaucracy to get all permissions. I used recycled objects to furnish the space, decorating them. I am the manager of recipes, the variety of the dishes that I propose to customers.

Concept author(s) Country


Friendly Competition

Pleasure (2016)

Competition category


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Franca Formenti was born in 1963 in Verona in Italy and is now living in Varese, her work taking her to Milan on a frequent basis. Varese is where, at sixteen-years-old, Franca Formenti cultivated an early interest in fashion, going on to attend the Secoli Institute for Fashion in Milan. Moving on in her artistic career and especially in the field of fibre art both in Italy and around the world, she wins several awards, including The Biennial International Textile Award in 2001, Ukraine/Kherson and participating in exhibitions for Textile Arts, known in Italy as The Chieti Biennials. Franca Formenti, the artist, uses various sources of expression, to include photography, videos, image editing and virtual art on the worldwide web, and has been, for a number of years, active in visual and social art in public spaces and on-line, throwing light on the more intriguing, even disturbing or socially relevant aspects of human behaviour. In 2002 Franca Formenti creates her “Bio Doll” performance, a work in progress focusing on the use of the female body as an instrument of seduction on and off-line. Following a series of video performances, photos and actions which invade the public sphere, she collaborates with Derrick de Kerckhove, exchanging ideas and information, to create the virtual conception of a human bring: the blokiwiki+blog,. In 2007 Franca Formenti turns her interest to the world of food, paying particular attention to the various forms of gratification, to the force and power of the concept of nourishment which conditions the behaviour and habits of the public in general, in an attempt to exploit the appeal of food in order to persuade people to reflect upon the actual crisis of identity sometimes observed in contemporary society. Franca Formenti has taken part in European and International exhibitions and conferences; recently, in 2008, at The Architectural Biennial of Venice for DomasLab Food; in 2011 at The Transmedial in Berlin, celebrating the centenary of Marshall McLuhan,in 2012 at The Umami Food & Art Festival and at Kreemart in New York. Franca Formenti has working relationships with Derrick de Kerckhove, Massimo Canevacci, Antonio Caronia, Luisa Valeriani and Tatiana Bazzichelli. In 2012 Franca Formenti was commissioned by the Italian association of Jeunes Restarateur d’Europe, to produce videos and take photographs of the top 87 renowned restaurants throughout Italy for the July AD Condè Nast 2013 restaurant guide-book.

Check out the Pleasure 2016 outlines of Memefest Friendly competition.

Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

Zona Franca is the continuation of a project which began in 2007 called FOODPOWER<www.foodpower.it> about the concept of food accessibility with a performance where all visitors were asked to arrive on an empty stomach.
Each visitor received a stamp on their hand at the entrance: 20% had a green stamp, 80% had a red stamp.
Only the green 20% could access the table full of food and if they understood the mechanism, they could also distribute the food to the other 80%.
Very few people understood the mechanism to share food, thus creating a frustrating and anxious situation.
After the first FOODPOWER performance, other performances about the concept of food, accessibility and sharing took place.
In the years following FOODPOWER I’ve focused on ancient seeds that aren’t registered in the official European seed catalogue, and so cannot be bought or sold, and so the products made with these also cannot be bought or sold. They may only be collected or traded.
I decided to transform the abstract FOODPOWER project into a Limited Business and open a take away, trying to break across the threshold of economics and burocracy and permits, haacp and a financial investment, to have the possibility to cook and sell food that is mainly produced with foods cultivated from ancient seeds, therefore creating a sort of “illegal food”.

What kind of communication approach do you use?

I tried to furnish the Zona Franca space with recycled materials that were then decorated with various craft techniques, from stencils to dying, drawing and other techniques. I thought of putting all these furnishings on sale, including the plants, which were placed in old pots and pans and then hung to grids on the wall. This decision to sell every modified and decorated object gave me the possibility to make the space in a continuous flux, so that even the client can perceive a sense of constant change. The decision to transform the foodpower project into a small business could seem contradictory, but for me it’s an attempt to cryptically create a constant activist environment so that the visitor can become aware of the problems of food monopolisation. Clients are welcomed into a pleasant and diverse atmosphere and slowly, through the pleasure of good food, which becomes a medium, they “digest” the various themes of monopolisation of seeds that the multinationals subtly impose on us.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

A year after opening I can make two considerations: the first is that it was very stressful due to the amount of work involved because working in a kitchen never lets you rest, especially if you want to offer something good and tasty at a good price.
The second consideration is that I’m very satisfied despite all this because the response has been very positive and the clients are happy and increasing.
I chose an area just out of the centre of my little town called Varese, a place close to the high schools, middle schools and elementary schools so I’m very happy to ‘spread the word’ around places of study, in fact many students and teachers are my main source of income.
Soon I will propose an event calendar with evening events where artists work with food, mostly because they can cook and so offer a menu that will be the sole work of that artist.
A young curator and a reporter are helping me.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

It may seem banal and romantic but my own learning was paramount, and also my intuition was vitally important, of course I had to work on that, analyzing it and adjusting it without losing faith in the project, as crazy as it may seem.
The public perceived this positive energy and even if just out of curiosity, they keep coming back, so they consume.

I tried to break into the notion of consumerism and capitalism but with a different approach: through art.
I’m very faithful in my objective to open another Zona Franca in the city centre and one in Milan, too.
I’ve worn a business woman’s hat and despite it being very tiring and stressful, I’ve had lots of fun because in the end, being an artist, I belong to art, so enticing clients to eat my food has an ethical message because they help to contribute to the increase and demand in unregistered ancient seeds, thus creating a kind of ‘black market’ of food that is camouflaged legally.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?


Where and how do you intent do implement your work?


Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)


Curators Comments

Darren Tofts

Now this is tactical performance. I love the idea of the use of ancient seeds as a source of a food economy that is in effect a temporary autonomous zone. There is always an enormous pleasure in the frisson of working beyond the boundaries of the permissible; whether it is outside art, guerrilla publishing on in this instance the daily necessity of consuming energy. And energy can come in myriad forms, as this project attests.



7 years, 4 months ago

Franca, this is an inspiring project, beautiful insurrection! Will go and read more on your website now! How to experience Zona Franca soon! Vida