Sarah Lucas: Temporary ob-scenarios, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi

In Milan, the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi is a mechanism for the transmission and dissemination of culture, under Massimiliano Gioni’s Artistic Direction. The Fondazione is a non-profit institution for the promotion of contemporary culture, founded in Milan in 1996. Neither a museum nor a collection, it acts as an agency for the production and diffusion of contemporary art. Its aim is engaging the general public in the language of contemporary art and its exhibitions are always free of charge and open with long viewing hours. The Foundation has restored, reopened and re-established within people collective imagination historical Milanese buildings such as Palazzo Litta, Palazzo Dugnani, and Palazzo Citterio, where international artists have been invited to create new works especially for these occasions. Since January 2003, the Nicola Trussardi Foundation has decided to explore new territories and modes of presenting contemporary art, by pushing the boundaries of the spaces traditionally devoted to a sort of “lapse of memory”. And the recent Sarah Lucas’s project at Albergo Diurno is deeply consistent with this intent.

The British artist solo show, titled Innamemorabiliamumbum and curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Vincenzo de Bellis, over three days welcomed 8233 people. On Friday, April 8, Saturday, April 9 and Sunday, April 10, during the twenty-first edition of Milan’s modern and contemporary art fair, the art lovers and curious visitors who came to the city from around the world for miart invaded the evocative underground baths designed in the early 1920s.

Albergo Diurno Venezia opened in 1926 in Milan, in the hypogea under Piazza Oberdan, known as Piazzale Venezia at the time. It was meant for the men and women of Milan who did not have toilets inside their homes, and for the travellers who had just reached Lombardy’s capital city. Its 1,200 square meters were divided into different spaces: thermal baths, bathrooms, pedicure and manicure booths, ladies’ hairdressers, shower stalls, ironing and wardrobe facilities, a barber, a shoeshine, a newsagent’s, a bicycle garage, and a left luggage office. This underground pearl of Art Nouveau, designed by architect Piero Portaluppi, reopened to the public thanks to FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) hosting for its very first time a contemporary art exhibition. Sarah Lucas created a site-specific exhibition, filling this fanè scenarios of beauty and personal care with anthropomorphic presences and bodily simulacra made from stockings, rags, fried eggs, fruit and found objects, playing with depictions of the female body and challenging stereotypes.

Maybe due to Innamemorabiliamumbum ephemeral duration, all of the displaced works are more domestic in scale and intimate than ever. Lucas’s W.C. sculptures and her body paraphrases -again derived from models made by stuffed tights- combine the melted forms of bidets with pieces of new a-sexual creatures. Arching and prancing, their pink tails variously falling and climbing Albergo Diurno’s thick air, these para-human creatures embody the way in which Lucas’s approach deal with real and surreal plastic registers.

Sarah Lucas’s works, for this undiscovered realm in Milan, modulate themes that have come to define her elliptically irreverent art: blending gender, death, non-sex, and the iconic power of everyday, common objects. Throughout this latest group of works, the body and its transliteration are no more the real representation’s heart of matter, while Lucas’s work continues to investigate how life could come through by a new light.

In the case of this particular exhibition, the space that is constantly reconstructed is that of intimacy, that of the relationship between bodies. That which visually seems always to be lacking in Luca’s works that are not performance, is us, as spectators. As if she left this space to be filled in by us. That relationship of intimacy, as if we were walking alone and suddenly came across someone, who slowly turned out to be part of ourselves. Innamemorabiliamumbum  questions the conflict-conditions that govern the relationship between time and history, gravity as a major conditioning factor of inscribing of the senses. This is not an exhibition project, but is rather the exhibition result of performing events: gazes, actions, movements, dives and emersions.

Ginevra Bria

Sarah Lucas, INNAMEMORABILIAMUMBUM ran from 8 – 10 April 2016 at Fondazione Nicola Trussardi.

1. Sarah Lucas, Innamemorabiliamumbum, Installation view, Albergo Diurno per Fondazione Trussardi, Milan, courtesy Ginevra Bria