Judy Chicago, artistic signature of the Barcolana 2023 manifesto and the new illy Art Collection, told INTERNI what 'inclusivity' really means today

A row of pink petals on a blue background like sails that stand out in the sky, which, if you look carefully, gather in a sweet group hug. No, we are not reconstructing the incipit of a fairy tale, we are simply faced with the Barcolana 2023 manifesto. An opportunity not wasted, to make iconography a vehicle of values.

The creativity belongs to Judy Chicago, the only one who with authority, conviction and authenticity disinterested in any form of what on social networks would be defined as 'trending topic', knows how to talk about rights and inclusion to the most disparate generations.

This year, in fact, the marriage between art and sport which returns every year on the occasion of the largest regatta in the world (the dates of the next edition: September 29 to October 8, 2023), and which sees united Barcolana and illy Cafè is back with the aim of talking about inclusion.

The connection is simple, but not simplistic: “Sailing has always been an exclusive sport, for the few. Over 50 years ago, Barcolana inaugurated an inclusive conception of this discipline, which is increasingly moving away from the concept of 'niche' passion", explains Mitja Gialuz, President of Barcolanaa.

A value that also aligns well with illy's philosophy, committed to enhancing diversity in all its forms and which, in particular, has entrusted the creativity of the illy Art Collection to Judy Chicago 2023 (the famous 'collectible' cups that have become a must for many).

illy actively participates in identifying the artist who designs the Barcolana manifesto year after year; the managing director Cristina Scocchia  takes part in the choice herself: “Judy Chicago is a contemporary icon who has made female empowerment and her inclusion the his artistic and intellectual expressive figure. As a woman, I feel proud of this collaboration, as CEO of illy myself I am the concrete testimony that for us it is not just storytelling, but a question of talent and merit. Diversity is a value in all its forms and Judy Chicago is an exceptional spokesperson for it”.

We reached out to Judy Chicago, to understand what it really means to be inclusive today – beyond the didactic definition.

What does it really mean to be a feminist today?

Judy Chicago: “I have always 'used' my art and its subjects to generate awareness and to fill a void in women's history on 'taboo themes such as childbirth, Toxic masculinity, the most vulnerable communities, animal rights and the environment.

Unfortunately, in many parts of the world the macro issue of rights is regressing, on several fronts: I am thinking of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States which overturned the sentence Roe v. Wade who recognized women's right to have an abortion; or Afghanistan, where girls cannot study or work; or again, Putin criminalizing feminism by turning Nadya Tolokonnikova (one of the founders of the collective Pussy Riot) into one of the most wanted criminals in Russia.

All this does nothing but ignite in me the desire to continue creating an art that educates and generates change. My work has always had the aim of creating awareness and stimulating activism and even if the means of communication with which I operate may have changed over time and still change: this is the legacy I want to leave to the new generations that they will have to continue to fight for equality and inclusion”.

How to guide young girls in feminism education today?

Judy Chicago: “I think everyone has to find their own way. The first and most important thing, however, is to recognize ourselves as much as possible in our historical position as women today, neglecting and glossing over everything that for thousands of years the patriarchal systems: we must start from here, from our history to outline our position".

How did you think about creativity for Barcolana 2023?

Judy Chicago: “Given that, as I believe, art can be a tool for social change and intellectual growth, to develop the Barcolana Manifesto I thought of an image that I hope will always remind us of the importance of fighting for human rights, for freedom and for women's emancipation, in sport and in all other sectors”.

How has your art changed over the years and how do you feel changed as an artist and as a feminist?

Judy Chicago: “One of my goals as an artist has been to abolish the denial and obscuration of women's contributions to the world of culture. I did it in different ways: with art, with literature (I wrote 14 books, the last one is an autobiography entitled The Flowering ) and, more recently, through fashion - with a line of Dior bags - and now with the new illy Art Collection which is a tribute to important women of history such as the Queen of France Marie Antoinette or the writer Virginia Woolf.

What I learned working with Massimiliano Gioni, curator of my next exhibition at the New Museum in New York, is that the cancel culture we have witnessed over the years does not only concern the achievements of women but also all those subjects that the patriarchal art world considers unimportant.

This exhibition has made me realize that one of the reasons my work has been marginalized for so long is that the multiple contexts of my work have long been obscure to the art world. Today I feel that my story, together with that of many other female artists, is finally being told".

Cover photo: Judy Chicago portrait by Donald Woodman 2019