Turn me on – what remains from the explosion by Sylvie Fleury
“Sometimes all you need is to scratch the surface, sometimes you have to blow it up”. This is how Swiss-born artist Sylvie Fleury welcomes us into her cave where sexist stereotypes grab at the last remains of an exuberant meal, where spirituality manages, perhaps for a little while longer, to launch an echo of itself beyond the synthetic fur wall. ‘Turn me on‘ is the title of Sylvie Fleury’s solo exhibition, on view till January 15, 2023 at the Pinacoteca Agnelli in Turin, curated by Sarah Cosulich and Lucrezia Calabrò Visconti.
The power of a display case, of a cabinet, which raises the value of all that it contains, arousing respect and sacredness in the eyes of the observer, nourishing in the visitor’s soul the desire to overpower, to possess. People crowding outside a shopping centre; the sound of a till beating out the hundredth receipt of the day. Sylvie Fleury, in order to imitate (an criticize) the processes of categorization enacted by both the market and the museum institution, arranges cabinets in rows, displaying sharply studded heels, golden handcuffs, a revolver transformed in a hairdryer.
In the second room, a television broadcasts the video ‘walking on Carl Andre‘, a set of sequences shot by Fleury herself in some Swiss private collections in 1997. Several women, wearing heels, move above a series of Squares, floor works by the famous minimalist artist Andre.
Neon, furs and shocking pink flames, this is how the artist responds to the fruits of Western pop and minimalist art culture, reflecting herself in a mirror while wearing a red scarf around her neck and a pair of silver earrings, carrying a golden, empty shopping trolley. Suddenly, the burst of a thunderous laugh.
‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus’; Fleury plays on this cliché between men and women to highlight its fallacy. The set of works, entitled ‘First Spaceship on Venus‘, is nothing more than a group of white fur-covered rockets, made in a wide range of media, that alter the shape of the spacecraft and, consequentially, the phallic symbolism they represent.
In one of the last rooms of the exhibition, the works on display recall the car fan club ‘She Devils on Wheels‘ open only to people who identify as women. All the objects from machismo subcultures – from customized Formula One suits, to lacquered oil barrels – are absorbed into Sylvie Fleury’s post-feminist language.
Through this exhibition, Fleury investigates one of the most critical wounds of contemporary society: the commodification of human identity. An identity lost in the aisles of a supermarket, dazed by constant television advertisements, and yearning for the assumption of what are considered the canons of an ideal model. A weary social animal trying to shelter from the neon lights that fill the city like fireflies until morning. Only one window in the entire neighborhood is in the dark, and beyond it, in the half-light, one can make out the last glint of a stud on a heel. Only one firefly remained awake until sunrise.
Rocco Belosi – Contributor
Sylvie Fleury. Turn Me On
27.05.2022 – 15.01.2023
Discover more: www.pinacoteca-agnelli.it