With this letter I would like to reach out to all the friends, artists, curators, museum Directors, teachers, students, families and art lovers who know and visit Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, as today is our 25th birthday. On 6th April 1995, myself, my husband Agostino and my parents, signed a new institution’s deed of incorporation, which would from that moment connect our names to art, and to a series of responsibilities, missions and tasks undertaken for its sake. I had for sometime wanted to make this move, to shift our work from that of a private collection to the Foundation, and to open up my experience of art and make it accessible to a broader public. It was a moment of great joy.
Looking back over these 25 years, I have in my mind a series of personal instant photos: mental pictures that now, in a moment of visual and information overabundance, seem to me even clearer than photographs. They are not chronological; they are artworks, exhibitions, people who tell a story and, together, form a picture of the planning, art production, curatorship, education and relationship with the public which has been our work. The accessibility, as the physical and democratic fruition of the contemporary culture. Some of them have new meanings now.
2019. September, on the San Licerio hill, in Guarene, not far from Palazzo Re Rebaudengo (the first home of the Foundation from 1997), there are big sculptures by Paul Kneale: satellite-dish-like shapes, with the body of the reflector facing towards the sky and outlined by red neon tubes. In the middle of a vineyard, just recently planted, the installation Flat Earth Visa seems a kind of plantation. It’s the beginning of a programme dedicated to the Roero and Langhe landscape – part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site – for which thoughtfully selected public works of art aim to explore and reflect upon the delicate relationship between nature and culture.
1995. Campo. It’s the title of one of the Fondazione’s first exhibitions – curated by Francesco Bonami – at the Corderie dell’Arsenale in Venice, and later at an industrial space in Sant’Antonino di Susa, near Turin, and at the Konstmuseum in Malmö, Sweden. 27 artists – among them Vanessa Beecroft, James Casebere, Olafur Eliasson, Shirin Neshat, Catherine Opie, Wolfgang Tillmans – all working with photography, and exploring the idea of physical space, the so-called ‘campo’: “like the venetian place for meetings and breaks, as a frame to the gaze”. This one exhibition, conceived by Francesco, with his talent and expertise, has since grown into a series of events and courses: from Campo 6, which took place the year after at GAM in Turin, to Campo, our course for Italian curators which was founded in 2012.
2016. February. Reboot The Planet! at our Auditorium in Turin. The students from Liceo Artistico Cottini, re-count a Q&A with Adrián Villar Rojas during his exhibition at the Fondazione, Rinascimento. In the exhibition space, without any artificial lights, among big stones eroded by the water and the wind, the students ask Adrián about how he chooses exhibition titles, about his studio in his mother’s kitchen, etc. They discuss passions, music, movies – talk about Radiohead and Star Wars. The exchange is made into a video, the first of the Fondazione’s Easy Pieces project, conceived by our Educational Department. Year after year it has grown with new questions from other young people and new answers from other artists, such as Ed Atkins, Liam Gillick, Rachel Rose, Monster Chetwynd, Berlinde De Bruyckere.
2002. Summer. Our venue in Turin, designed by the architect Claudio Silvestrin, is opening soon. The sun is out and the light is seeping in. Harald Szeemann, who has just curated two Biennials in Venice in 1999 and in 2001, arrives. We look around the exhibition space together. It seems to me that this tall and smiling man, this legendary curator, is inaugurating the space, our project, and it brings me great joy.
2003. The Fondazione becomes a commissioner, aiding the production of Doug Aitken’s monographic exhibition, in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries. In February, New Ocean transforms our Turin exhibition space into an immersive path with extraordinary video installations on an environmental scale. In this phantasmagoria, the visitors become travellers, Borderlands explorers: the Argentinian deserts, the ice and the water of the Artic Circle. A blue exhibition. A dream.
1997-2001. On the terrace in Guarene we spend days talking about art. The small village among the hills becomes a crossroads: a meeting place for artists and curators from all over the world. Every year they come to Palazzo Re Rebaudengo to work and to take part in a double award given to an artwork and a project: Premio Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Premio Regione Piemonte. I have always loved supporting ideas. I remember the conversations with Carlos Basualdo, Daniel Birnbaum, Iwona Blazwick, Richard Flood, Yuko Hasegawa, Lars Nittve, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Vicente Todolí. And I remember Okwui Enwezor, who would come back to Guarene for Giuseppe Gabellone’s exhibition. We miss him so much.
2012. 25th September at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. It’s the opening of Think Twice: Twenty Years of Contemporary Art from Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, curated by Francesco Bonami and Achim Borchardt-Hume. Four exhibitions, one after the other, until September 2013. For a year the Collection lives in London. The first one is Bidibidobidiboo by Maurizio Cattelan, the little suicidal squirrel of 1996. Then comes The Acquired Inability to Escape by Damien Hirst, Love Me by Sarah Lucas, Bang Bang Room by Paul McCarthy and Viral Research by Charles Ray. It was made in 1986 but it seems to talk about our world today. The Collection is used to travelling. It taught me to travel, being housed in museums in Athens, Paris, Madrid, Quito, Berlin, Shanghai.
2015. Emissary in the Squat of Gods, a solo exhibition by Ian Cheng, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, opens on 23rd April in Turin. We sit and watch a video projection on the walls of the Fondazione. It is unending – if we come back to watch it again, it will never be the same. The video is a world: a virtual ecosystem populated by individuals, voices and sounds, and animated by an algorithm. The artwork is the first chapter of a trilogy, co-produced by the Fondazione. In 2017 it is presented at MoMA in New York. In February 2020, in Madrid, in the historical rooms of Fundación Fernando de Castro, Emissaries opens the Fundaciòn Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Madrid’s programme.
Ian Cheng is our emissary from the future. He helped us to look ahead. It was like vertigo. Contemporary art has taught us to understand new complexities. The education we receive from the past 25 years of encountering artists, artworks and staging exhibitions has defined our experience of the world. And so, I, together with my staff (whom I thank one by one) continue to work day by day to think, rethink and conceive, how we can continue to grow, with all of the changes of the world that will surely come.
Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo
Turin, 6 April 2020
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