• Roberto Alvau

Hola! I'm Roberto Riccardo Alvau

Updated: Feb 3


Where are you from? What do you study/What are you doing in Amsterdam?

I was born in Sassari, a small city in Sardinia, Italy. After high school, I moved to Valencia (Spain) with my family and I have been living there for the last 5 years. I’m currently doing a bachelor’s degree in History of Art at the University of Valencia and my internship at the SAMA is realized in partnership with my home university and the Erasmus+ project. I’m very enthusiastic to be part of this team and to have the opportunity to work in a social engaged art project as SAMA.



Can you tell me something about the place where you lived or come from?

Sardinia is a beautiful island in the middle of Mediterrean Sea and we all sardinian people have a strong connection with our culture and history. It’s a beautiful place to live for its nature and its cultural tradition but the island is currently living hard times due to economic and political reasons, so it is quite usual for young people like me to go abroad and find new experiences. Sardinia is still famous mostly for its landscapes and natural beauties, but I think we need to stimulate our cultural tourism in order to preserve and promote our art and traditions.


What is your favourite activity/the things you like to do during your free time?

My studies opened me a new way to see the world and to occupy my free time: I think right now my favourite “activity” is absorbing as much as possible all visual and artistic stimulations from my surroundings. That means visiting exhibitions, galleries (even if I am not a fan of this kind of art closed-circuit) and museums. Now it’s a bit difficult for me to do that because of coronavirus times, but I have a whole new city to visit, so I’m not getting bored so far here in Amsterdam.


During my stay in Valencia, I also started paintin

g and producing artworks by myself and then in collaboration with some local artists, I had the opportunity to curate some self-exhibition, so I progressively entered the contemporary art valencian world. Now in Amsterdam it would be difficult to produce artworks without a stable art studio, so I decided to start a personal photography project about the relationship between the city, their inhabitants, the pandemic situation and my point of view as an expat.




What fascinates you the most about the city? About Nieuw West?

I came here to expand my knowledge about contemporary art tendencies and to touch by myself the northern Europe art, so Amsterdam was my first choice for its multicultural impact and its importance as an art capital in Europe. When I was in Spain, I understood that I needed to leave the “mediterranean” point of view to enter in contact with new cultures and ways of seeing art. Nieuw West very fascinated me because of that, I think it’s a neighbourhood with a strong culture and identity that is progressively growing and becoming important for the artistic life of the city.



What is your relation towards street art? Art in general?

Valencia is one of the most important centres for spanish street art movement: it’s a very street art-friendly city and we are literally full of graffiti and murales by artists from all over Europe. I’ve always been fascinated by the world of urban art and the political and social importance of this movement for its surrounding, I think the potential of street art lies in its ability to be a “social interstice”, quoting the famous french curator Nicolas Bourriaud. My interest in urban art led me to organise a project in collaboration with the University of Valencia in 2019, consisting of an event to promote and disseminate the graffiti world within the university environment.


"“Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system: to dismantle in order to build a social organism as a work of art.”
BEUYS, Joseph. “I am Searching for Field Character” (1973)

In your opinion what’s the most interesting aspect of Street Art?

I think its real strength is the ability to be a social engaged project more than a museum in the classical sense of the word. I’m currently doing my bachelor’s thesis about the potential of relational art and the theories by researchers such as Nicolas Bourriaud or Claire Bishop, and I think SAMA is creating a very important site for the social public art in the city.


Do you have a favourite artist in the SAMA collection?

I don’t have a favourite one because I think there are too many incredible artists within this collection: it’s impossible to choose an artwork or an author. By the way, I was very proud to know that some sardinian artists participated in this collection. The street art movement in Sardinia is now a very important reality and I’m really happy to see something like that.




What’s the reason why you're here at SAMA?

I was looking for a new experience that allows me to expand my knowledge about contemporary art and new ways to understand what a museum can be moreover the classical concept. I already worked as an art archivist when I was in Spain, so I think that the chance of collaborating in such an important collection is a step forward for my professional career and personal development.


What is your task at SAMA?

I will be working on the online archive of the museum, my task will be cataloguing and preserving all of the audiovisual heritage of the collection.


What interested you the most of the idea / the concept of SAMA?

I think it is quite important to create an online archive because urban art is a kind of ephemeral art, so the only way to have a testimonial of this artworks is recording their history and their visual appearances for those who didn’t have the chance to see it in time.



What do you want to learn during your time at SAMA? What do you want to achieve during your time at SAMA?

I want to enhance my skills and be an active part of this social project, even if I know we are living some difficulties due to COVID-19 times so most of the work will be theoretical and not practical. I think this opportunity could help me to gain important skills about archiving, cataloguing and preserving artworks.


Which connection do you see between your study and SAMA? How can SAMA benefit from it?

I’ve been studying a lot about the importance of archiving and cataloguing during my studies and I’ve always been fascinated by contemporary art and new public ways to make and spread art. I will provide to the SAMA team all my previous experience about archiving and cataloguing and I hope to be a helpful member during the next 4 months.


What has been the funniest / most impressive moment/experience during your time in Amsterdam/ at SAMA so far? Which artwork of the SAMA collection do you like the most?

I think the delicious morrocan fish we ate on my first day and, obviously, the beautiful little dog, Pinky!

From an artistic point of view, I was very impressed by a big work of art realized by some Italian graffiteros inside the gallery. Anna explained the whole story behind this work to me in detail and I found it very interesting and inspiring. It’s the artwork of the collection I liked the most so far!




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