Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo distinguishes herself as an art collector, this is out of question. The homonymous foundation, “Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo” (FSRR), is like a point of reference in the world of contemporary art, not only in Italy, but also at an international level. To those who had the great pleasure of meeting her personally, in her house, she represents much more. An authentic lady, welcoming, available, brilliant and extremely sophisticated: she possesses unpredictable qualities in a world which is nowadays more and more effected by narcissism, that yet renders her a huge contemporary art “influencer” even far beyond social media and in spite of them. It takes as little as visiting one of the exhibitions designed by the FSRR in order to realise it.
For this exact reason we have decided to tackle with her the theme of the relationship between social media and art. Also
in relation to the research of new audiences, considering that the global change we have witnessed during the last few months is by now structural.
Question: Last month “Garage” published an essay written by “Alex Israel”, titled “Always on my mind”: a very acute observation of how the artist, entering the new era, looks back at a decade of work, technology and culture in quick development which has influenced him. He claims that social media have completely shaken up the hierarchy of fame during the “Era of the Empire”, whereas visibility has replaced the traditional notions of “talent” – which is especially valid in the field of arts. What are your thoughts?
Answer: I agree with Alex Israel’s view on social media, which stresses the medias’ capacity of questioning the traditional categories of influence and of fame, which are so central and persistent in the area of arts and its corresponding criteria of evaluation. On the other hand, I believe that visibility and self-advertisement cannot exist in autonomy regardless of content. Just like in the past, artists today must offer a solid research, they must tackle relevant issues in their artworks and most of all they must accept the confrontation with the wide community, composed of both audience and fellow artists, curators, theoreticians and institutions, in order to emerge and be defined as an artist. I am aware that art is also practiced by outsiders. I am always careful about exceptions yet little prone to solitary paths.
Q: During the last few months “arts via social”, presented on online exhibitions, Instagram lives and Webinar lives via Linkedin, has rendered the management of many peoples’ agendas very complicated. The offers from FSRR which were part of this wide range, have been, in our view, very enjoyable. In your opinion, what does this “success§ depend on?
A: In the case of the Foundation, the most interesting element was that this offer has been joined by our followers as well as by a “new” audience: neophytes of social pariah, who came across these platforms during the lockdown and also people who have discovered or rediscovered art by means of technology and increased availability of time during this period. It has been of extreme importance for us to stay tuned during these months. Interacting with our audience by means of newsletters, constantly updated contents on our website and social media. In coherence with our idea of education it was essential to stand by families, students and teachers.We upgraded the “e-learning I Speak Contemporary” project, which brings contemporary art closer using English language in video lessons, interviews with artists and an interactive e-book. We created specific contents for young adults who are affected by autism, in collaboration with the Foundation Teda. We talked about our projects through Instagram, Facebook and a special newsletter. We tried to give out a signal of closeness, concretely showing to what great extent art can be used as a tool to read today’s world, its complexity and its transformations.
Q: A challenging moment at social and human level lies upon us. But thinking at the merely professional aspects, what are the current risks and preoccupations for an entrepreneurial activity such as a Foundation?
A: The challenge for an institution such as mine is to continue growing. Our aim is to increase the high profile of quality that always has and will guide our activity. The FSRR is a non-profit institution which I wanted to provide with an entrepreneurial structure, in alignment with my Business and Economics studies. I intend to overcome the crisis with a constructive approach, focusing on artists, education in broader terms but also on specialised education,. These are all frameworks we invested a lot in. Nevertheless, the Foundation will have to re-invent itself, in order to respond to the new demands associated with the pandemic. We know that the tourists and foreign visitors, who we generally welcome in our rooms, will be few in the next months. Thus, it will be even more essential to pay attention to the demands at local level and of our co-citizens, to which the Foundation is always available to, as well as its first interlocutors. Also the use of exhibitions and our activities will change, as well as the means of how they will be conceived and set up. Lastly, it will be required to modify the relationship to the artists, especially the way in which we could continue support the production of new artwork. Regarding this last purpose, the Foundation is already working on a new project of digital purchasing.
Q: What do you expect of the future system of art? How will the approach to the artists, their performances and most of all the research of new audiences change?
A: We were used to a certain bustle in the world of arts, many events and the persistent necessity of moving in order to follow them in any angle of the globe. The pandemic has interrupted all of this. I can imagine that the recovery will bring a slowdown, an expansion, an increased attention towards the local audiences and towards the local reality: the bet will be maintaining alive the confrontation and dialogue at international level. The institutions will have a great responsibility towards artists, who just like anyone else are going through a tough period due to the complete shutdown of the activities. Support, commitment and collaboration actions will thereby always be more important.
In our view, Patrizia Sandretto is always one step ahead, a blend of excellent quality and innovation. By the tenor of her answers we can, once more, confirm that she is an indispensable reference point in the world of contemporary art. All her actions and her words are in a perfect synthony: the use she makes of the social media is not merely as a marketing tool but also one of the best, most innovative, way to create learning platforms for new audiences. This is, in our view, a noble way of thinking.
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