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The Fondazione Zegna—the philanthropic culture arm of luxury fashion brand Ermenegildo Zegna—is joining Italian painter Michelangelo Pistoletto’s foundation for a one-time event. The duo is supporting Visible, an organization that specializes in furthering artists to create socially engaged art, for the fourth biennial Visible Award ceremony this weekend. On December 2 at the Queens Museum, the ceremony will take place with, as they call it, a “temporary parliament.” For the first time in the United States, the event it open to the public, and all attendees will have a chance to discuss and vote on the work of nine artists who are competing for the prize—nearly $30,000.
Through this one-day event, The Zegna Foundation’s ongoing dedication to publicly available art, rather than museum pieces, continues in a new and exciting way.
We spoke with Andrea Zegna, family member and council member of The Fondazione Zegna, to learn more about the foundation, this award, and some recent inspiration.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about The Fondazione Zegna, and your role within the foundation.
ANDREA ZEGNA: Fondazione Zegna was established by the fourth generation of the Zegna family in 2000 to improve the quality of life of communities and individuals around the world—a mission rooted in the beliefs of the company’s founder, Ermenegildo, for whom ethics, business, and aesthetics were intrinsically interwoven. In the 1930s he created one of the earliest Italian examples of environmental and social patronage through the reforestation of the mountain area surrounding his eponymous wool mill, and the establishment of welfare facilities. The Foundation plans and coordinates international humanitarian initiatives in four areas of activity: conservation and amelioration of environmental and cultural resources; fostering of sustainable development in local communities, in Italy and abroad; support for medical and scientific research; education and training for young people. Fondazione Zegna is based in Trivero, where Casa Zegna (an industrial, historical archive and cultural center) and Oasi Zegna (an “open-air laboratory” covering over 100 square kilometers and focusing on the mutual relationships between people, mountain culture and nature) are also situated.
I am a member of the Fondazione Zegna’s council, and in particular, the one responsible for all the projects in contemporary art—together with Barbara Casavecchia, curator in charge of the All’Aperto project (an initiative devoted to the creation of site specific, public, permanent intervention in the village of Trivero and its outskirt, from artists both national and international).
WW: What does this temporary parliament, and award, mean for the artists involved?
AZ: The award is very important for artists who deal with socially engaged art projects because it gives them visibility in an international complex. For the winner, it is very important because it gives the artist the chance to start or implement an ongoing project. As all the artist are submitting projects socially involved in the public sphere, we have decided that the jury should be an open one, accessible to everybody and not just limited to the “art people.” We experienced the same format in Liverpool in December 2015.
WW: What’s a fashion or art show you’ve seen recently that you’re still thinking about?
AZ: I was in Texas few weeks ago and had the chance to visit the most important museum in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. They all have amazing collection of Mexican antique art; it was quite a discovery to me because most of the European museum do not have this kind of objects in their collection. I was also very much impressed by the exhibition “Where We Are: Selections From the Whitney’s Collection, 1900-1960″ that I recently saw in New York.
WW: In your role, you must travel a great deal. What are your travel essentials?
AZ: Books. And travel light!
WW: What city have you been to recently that you’re excited to get back to?
AZ: Last summer I was in Palermo for a week—a wonderful city, but all of Sicily is outstanding.
WW: How do you unwind after a long day?
AZ: Reading a good book or watching a good movie!
The Visible Award will be presented at the Queens Museum this weekend on December 2, and the temporary parliament will be open from 10 a.m.–6 p.m.