Adesso che le ali si son fatte brune
le osservo sgargianti ai tempi dei giochi
come topolino ignavo del futuro
ma esperto a zazzicare cromie per le sue ali
distrattamente stava a snocciolare ritmate cantilene
riverberi scintillanti dentro gusci vuoti
dentro camini in disuso o soffitte piene
tra agglomerati di fili, mobili, cartoni industriali
tra siepi scure e fresche o in periferie invernali,
in gran segreto, lontano dagli sguardi senza luce
ma triste; dove i giganti dimentichi non passano
Le ali si son fatte brune,
brunito il carapace, che a breve,
lascerà quelle sue piccole storie per sbiancarsi a nuova luce
The Containers are objects made of glazed fire clay, a material that allows me to realize them quickly and, at the same time, gives me freedom in the creative procedures; moreover, this simple material has a quality that is currently essential: it is biodegradable.
Knowing that the use of clay dates back to the origin of human history, that clay has been employed since the dawn of time offers a stimulating perspective. Like a magical powder, it creates a connection with our ancestors. To be part of this ancestral handwork satisfies the pleasure I take in feeling lost, annihilated, to find again the tracks of a thought, of a powerful, unexpectedly enthralling, feminine lexicon.
That is the reason why these creations are neither boxes nor sculptures.
I call these objects ‘Containers’ because their external shape is not as relevant as the emptiness they enclose. The ‘empty space inside’ creates the external shape, not vice versa. It is conceived as a space to be discovered and lived, a space to be fragmented and recreated. Once the curiosity has been satisfied, or you have been using them, I like to think that the inside turns into a hidden space again that protects and conceals little mysteries; once all the holes, the compartments, the sliding shelves and the lids have been closed, they become shapes again with their hieratic and unflappable surfaces.
I realized the first container when I was about twenty years old, after one of the strongest experiences in my life: the death of the dearest person to me. I moulded a small clay urn with a lid in the shape of a sleeping girl. I did not give much importance to this handcraft and I did not fire it. If I look back to that episode today, I think it was when I began to pay tribute to my faith in eternity. Unconsciously, I was like a wailer, grieving and taking care of the dearly departed. Still today, after a particularly hard period, when I can’t see any epiphany on the horizon, I go back to that kind of work to take off again, in one breath with the afterlife.
Building spaces, on the contrary, dates back to my childhood; it is a game my body can’t forget. When I was a child, outdoor, the opportunity to design on a great scale was commensurate with the industrial area where I used to live. There were plenty of materials: big pallets, huge cardboard boxes, even iceboxes of disused refrigerated lorries. All these objects were amazingly abundant and, in my eyes, it was a spectacular view. I used to build unique, fanciful settings where I welcomed my playmates: a cafè, a shop or a circus.
In the huge attic that was above the apartment and the ice cream factory, I set up comfortable homes where I isolated in a pensive mood; piling up old furniture that functioned as walls and ceiling, I created my own space, the emptiness I needed, a secret and cosy uterus-dwelling, a cave space with a view of the sky, a space concealed from everybody else.
This desire to build spaces in order to enclose myself or other people has an ancestral origin and over time, I understood its meaning. I create uterus-shapes that offer an intimate consolation and keep little secrets; or I realize warmers and little ovens to burn incense or herbs. It is a divertissement, for the others or myself.
Before I start working on any new project, mulling over ideas that are still brewing, I mould a new series of containers: this way I breathe lightness, it is like performing the sun salutation, bending my body and my mind, the warm-up before a session of ashtanga yoga.
Each group of containers corresponds to a different moment, that’s why they have different shapes and colours. Every time I start anew or I work in a self-controlled way, drawing inspiration from the sketches in my notebooks, or else I improvise the whole creative process under the influence of the places I visit, places where artisans still have the time to express themselves through their hands. Bone combs, mother-of-pearl buttons, industrial metal remains, or natural shapes like shells and rock crystals, small objects someone else has realized or natural miracles: all these things will have a place of honour on the outside of the Containers.
Thus, it happens that every time unforeseen shapes sprout up: they can be geometrical, linear, essential, or they can be unsteadily balancing vertical forms; or organic, rounded, elliptical forms, zoomorphic figures that shut the top of the Containers. Or even figures of young girls, in a sitting or lying position, like Vestals of what could be urns or keepers of spaceships in view of interstellar flights.
I use the Raku pottery technique for the glazing because it allows me to employ oxides and crystal formers in the same way as in informal painting. I like to preserve the marks and residues of the material and, with the sign left by the gesture, to give life a new beginning.
On the perfectly smooth surfaces, I realize the bucchero black to enhance wild hues, driven by the nostalgia for the black Indian idols, drenched in pungent-smelling ghrita, turmeric yellow and kumkuma red. Using my enamels, I try to imitate the Rishi, sprinkling ritual substances while performing their ceremonies.
The Containers are the ritual protagonists of my exhibits, where augural deities often stand out in the central part: they have dignified walk on parts and with their colourful coatings aptly support the kind of energy the exhibit evokes.
This technique is linked to a game I used to play when I was a child; I found this game a fulfilling and pleasant experience. I shut myself in the bathroom; I stood in front of the mirror and put a Christ child statuette, a Nativity scene figurine, on the shelf. Traditionally, we only put up the Christmas tree in my house. There was no religious belief or practice, while to me, that little child, forgotten amid a heap of trifles, was something sacred.
Looking at myself in the mirror, I spoke with devotion to the statuette and started an endless series of ablutions on my beloved figurine: I used honey, talcum powder, grass juice, olive oil. I waited for all these ingredients to stand, thinking about their beneficial effect, then I carefully washed the Christ child with perfumed water, I wrapped it in a small woolen headscarf, I sang and danced for him on the edge of the tub, always looking at myself in the mirror, feeling close to him. The whole game consisted in a meticulous sequence the meaning of which I now understand or at least the pleasure I took in it is not mysterious or unusual anymore: it was a journey in a room, a puja on a small scale.