27.03.2023 #art

Sarah Cosulich

The Pinacoteca Agnelli is a catalyst of passions

“Those who come here don’t just love art, but also speed, cars, the landscape and industrial archaeology”

A dynamic centre where the extremes dialogue peacefully with each other. Like the past with the present, industrial archaeology and glimpses of the historic centre of Turin, contemporary art and those who mistakenly believe they are light years away from it. It is the Pinacoteca Agnelli, a veritable treasure chest of wonders set inside the Lingotto. Since the end of May last year, “a new course” (everyone calls it that in these parts) has opened up here. Sarah Cosulich has been chosen to lead it, and she seems to have a very special bond with the city of the Mole. She was born in Trieste, she has different international experiences (five years at the direction of Artissima art fair). She is determined to transform the institution into a bridge between the multidisciplinary languages of our daily life and the historic collection. The undisputed symbol of this new journey is the Pista 500, the iconic test track for FIAT cars on the roof of the Lingotto, transformed into an open-air museum. A magical place capable of summarizing all the meaning of this ambitious project in one fell swoop, which from March to July will be the setting for the Strike exhibition, where the creative epic of Lee Lozano, one of the most brilliant, rebellious and controversial female artists in history We meet the director.

How does a reality like this differ from all the other Italian contemporary art institutions?

Our aim is to involve an ever wider and more diversified audience. Those who come here not only love art, but also speed, cars, the landscape and industrial archaeology. We are a catalyst of passions, all different from each other. This is our true identity. The decision to open up a new course was made by President Ginevra Elkann and the support for the implementation of our program comes from our main partner Fiat.

How is the new exhibition program of the space characterized?

We have three specific strands: the first is that of the Pista 500 on the roof of the Lingotto, a suspended garden where we host and produce site-specific projects and environmental installations signed by international artists. The second concerns the reactivation of the permanent collection with Beyond the Collection, an annual project that aims to reflect on the presences and absences of the collection (Picasso, Tiepolo, Modigliani, Canaletto, Manet, Matisse among others) in relation to important international institutions; and finally, on the third floor, we have a new program of temporary exhibitions focused on pioneering artists who consolidate the institution’s place in today’s international art scene. We’ve brought Sylvie Fleury here in the past. Now the time has come for American Lee Lozano.

What should we expect from Strike?

It will be a journey through the eclectic path of Lee Lozano during his career of only twelve years from 1960 to 1972 when he retired from the art world as an artistic action: from the first drawings to the figurative expressionist canvases, to the monumental abstracts up to his Language Conceptual pieces. The imagery of this radical and revolutionary artist often develops from anthropomorphized weapons and tools, male sexual organs as symbols of patriarchal power slogans as hard as punches in the stomach that reveal a rebellion against every rule of society.

Why Lee is so little known?

She is an important artist and recognized by museums and insiders but her work is not often seen in Europe. Ours is the first monographic exhibition in Italy. Her art and life choices certainly penalized her, having chosen to withdraw and reject the art system in line with the research she carried out with her work. The extreme gesture of a figure who has experienced every language. Her work is confronted with the body and with the identity, even hers, as evidenced by the works in which she classified her experiments and her behaviours. Satirical and violent, ferocious against any preconceived order and, at times, against herself, she is an artist who combines body, eroticism, bowels and mathematics. In short, she is a fascinating artist whose stories and obsessions must be told because they are extremely current.

What inspired the need to create continuity with the Pinault Collection (the exhibition will be held at the Bourse in Paris in September)?

Everything was born spontaneously. The Pinacoteca today produces each of its exhibitions internally. When, in creating this project, we contacted the Pinault Collection to ask them to loan some works (Pinault is one of Lozano’s largest European collectors), they asked us to be able to exhibit the art show at the Bourse de Commerce in Paris.

The Lingotto, the factory, the architecture: what is your relationship with the city of Turin?

With the new programming, we have opened the Pista 500 to the city. From the roof of the Lingotto, you can admire the city and the mountains from a completely unusual point of view. It is almost a metaphor for our role: to offer unexpected views. The Pista 500 project is enriched with installations specifically designed by international artists and artists for its spaces and is designed to broaden the experience of a symbolic place in the city, making it a cultural destination accessible to all. Here the works dialogue with the conversion of the Lingotto roof from a closed circuit to an open road, from a production site to a space to live together. The relationship with the various local realities of Turin is constant and very close: with the Municipality, with the Region with the Salone del libro…..

Why Turin is so special?

I love this place. It is a closed, silent but also elegant and experimental city. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always know how to exploit his talents which remain hidden.

What is Turin’s greatest asset?

Its mystery.

And its biggest flaw?

Its silence, indeed.

If people don’t understand contemporary art, whose fault is it?

We should work more seriously with the school and its programs. given that in textbooks there is no contemporaneity. We should explain to the kids that contemporary art shouldn’t scare them and, above all, that it’s not mandatory to understand.

How much does the power of appearing affect the art world today?

Art has become a fashion and a form of investment. And this harms research. We go less and less to discover what really intrigues us. The artist finds himself inside this system that devours and digests everything at the speed of light. You chase models when instead you should remain true to yourself. But then I strongly believe in the value of time that in the end cleans everything up.

Miuccia Prada, when asked about what is the best way to experience a work of art, replied: “Quickly. What matters is the first impression”. Do you agree with her?

Not too much. My point of reference is Kasper König, one of the greatest curators of all time, who said: “if you like something too quickly you have to ask yourself questions”. Sometimes it’s worth looking into things that initially annoy you. That too is a reaction to take into consideration. 

Would she like to be your assistant?

I think not (laughs). Because I’m stubborn. But I don’t believe too much in hierarchies, I’m very accessible and in the end, I listen. With a little patience, she gets along with me.

If you hadn’t been a curator, what would you have done in life?

I would not know. I am a rational person who loves irrationality: art allows me to bring these two extremes together.


Interview : Editorial staff

Photos : Ludovica Arcero

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