Sylvie Fleury’s work is sexy, if sexy means high heels, fast cars and a whole lot of make-up. Rather, the Swiss artist is concerned with the trappings of sex within the popular imagination, of primped femininity and perfectly posed glamour shots. Her glossy sculptures and installations move easily between political questions of gender, beauty and consumerism in motifs ranging from lipsticks to magazine covers to fitting rooms. Often associated with both pop art and minimalism for her appropriation of pre-existing objects, she uses the language of the female everyday and slices it open to reveal its brutality.
Turn Me On, her latest exhibition at Pinacoteca Agnelli in Turin (nestled within the former Fiat automobile factory) brings together the full spectrum of more than 30 years of Fleury’s work, from performance to video pieces. In one film, Walking on Carl Andre, women in high-heeled shoes are shown doing just that on the minimalist master’s work, a subversive gesture that can be seen replicated throughout her artistic practice. Never one to shy away from confrontation, Fleury walks all over our expectations and turns them on their head.
If you could save only one item from your studio, what would it be?
If I have to choose only one thing, it would of course be my cat Shaman.
What was the last art material you bought to use in your work.
I bought some director chairs for the She-Devils on Wheels club in my exhibition Turn Me On at Pinacoteca Agnelli.
What is your go-to song when you’re working in the studio?
I listen mainly to garage punk from the 1960s and 1970s,bands such as The Donnas or The Pandoras. By The Pandoras I would highly recommend the album Rock Hard. You can actually hear some of them in my video Between My Legs, or in some of Quentin Tarantino’s movies.
Which single work of art would you choose to live alongside in your home?
I would definitely choose a storefront by Christo. It’s always good to have a storefront at home.
Top three art or photography books?
I have just two that come to my mid right now: Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel; and Miriam Cahn: Writing in Rage.
“I would definitely choose a storefront by Christo. It’s always good to have a storefront at home”
If money was no object, what would you most like to experiment with in your work?
I would love to make an unlimited edition of Yes to All.
Tell us a pet peeve of yours when it comes to the art world.
Bad lighting and nasty floors.
What is your favourite gallery or museum space around the world?
I really love the Egyptian museum in Turin.
Louise Benson is Elephant’s deputy editor
Sylvie Fleury: Turn Me On is at Pinacoteca Agnelli in Turin until 15 January 2023
Listen to all the go-to songs picked by our 5 Minutes With artists here