The Portrait Room. Portrait#9: Carla Subrizi

carla subrizi

Carla Subrizi speaks Chinese,
appreciates sincere enthusiasm, and often wears black.


Since 1994, Carla Subrizi teaches History of Contemporary Art and Contemporary Art Semiotics at Sapienza University in Rome and is artistic director of Baruchello Foundation. Among many others, she published Azioni che cambiano il mondo. Donne arte e politiche dello sguardo (Postmedia, 2012), Europa e America, 1945-1985 (Aracne, 2008), Introduzione a Duchamp (Laterza, 2008), Cesare Viel. Azioni 1996-2007 (Silvana Editoriale, 2008), Imagine/Image (Rome-London 2007), Verifica incerta. L’arte oltre i confini del cinema (DeriveApprodi, 2004), Il corpo disperso dell’arte (Lithos,  2000) and a number of essays for major magazines. She is also curator, art critic and historian.
And she is a woman, above all: engaged, passionate, receptive.

Carla was born in 1958, same year of Hitchcock’s Vertigo (La donna che visse due volte) and Comencini’s Le mogli pericolose. She has studied a lot and easily: the books were interlocutors to her, objects to have a close interaction with. She left for London at the age of 20, with just two books as travel buddies: Henri-Pierre Roché’s Jules and Jim and Nietzsche’s Thus spoke Zarathustra. During the late 70′s, she identified with Joan Baez and  Ulrike  Meinhof; at that time, her and her classmates’ minds were invaded by political events and consciousness. Once at the university, she chose to study History of Art, for she realized that art would have made her understand mental processes and human “madness” more deeply than psychiatry. She obtained a Master’s Degree in History of Art at Sapienza University in 1982 with a thesis on André Masson, and subsequently graduated at  the School of  Specialization in History of art. After the protests of ’77, these were the “return to order” times. Afterwards she started learning piano and Chinese. In 1989, she gave birth to his first son, Edoardo, and Elena came 5 years later. She married twice, last time in 2003.

As director of Baruchello Foundation, she is currently working on some changes, such as rethinking the relationship between art, land and agriculture through a mental ecology. This unique foundation works experimentally since 2000 in Rome’s countryside and hopefully – despite economic crisis – will keep on developing not only Baruchello’s projets (such as the catalogue raisonné of his works) but also collaborations with external artists. The Foundation will bet on low cost projets: “we have an headquarters, a vaste land and we surely do not miss ideas, perhaps time!” she says.

In the last years, Carla Subrizi got also interested in researching on cultural processes underlying history of art. In her opinion, women’s role in Art is really helpful to understand contradictions and gaps of the official paradigms and also reveals their imposition and possible decostruction. At this time, she is working on her upcoming book, Percorsi di storia dell’arte dal 1945. Una stroia discontinua, based on the concept of history’s discontinuity. Subrizi is interested in studying XX century’s female literature and essays, for it testifies to invisible female contribution indeed. Their stories cannot be simply added to official History of Art but radically question methodologies and strategies of history writing. Is it possible to write an history without causes and consequences, made out of transversal connections and histories that linear History forgot?
Lying in the dubstin of History with capital H, they have something to say.

And Carla Subrizi wants to give ear!

Useful links for the reader:

- Carla Subrizi’s page on Sapienza University of Rome’s official website
- An article about Baruchello Foundation by Carla Subrizi on FlashArt Magazine


Beginning of April 2014, interview by telephone and email, between Geneva and Rome

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by Michela Alessandrini
in The Portrait Room

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