MAXXI & Alcantara Art Masks
Andrea Anastasio's butterfly wings, Gentucca Bini's Zorro mask,
Elena Salmistraro's protective gargoyle and Sissi's flower / tongue
On sale at MAXXI bookshop and online at Booktique.info
They’ve become part of our daily lives. We wear them like an unavoidable accessory. Out of legal obligation, but more out of respect for others, because the pandemic has taught us new ways of being together. And most of all, it has taught us what counts, what we have to appreciate and defend.
This consideration has given rise to PROTECT AND RESPECT! an Alcantara initiative supporting the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (National Museum of Art of the XXIst Century) involving 4 artists - Andrea Anastasio, Gentucca Bini, Elena Salmistraro and Sissi - called upon to design filtering face masks in Alcantara®, whose proceeds are designated to cultural projects of the museum, gravely affected by the closure during the months of obligatory quarantine.
The result, for all intents and purposes, is an artistic production. The four designers, working in different disciplines (art, fashion, design), design objects that take off from their previous research on the symbolic and anthropological meaning of “masking”.
Andrea Anastasio, significant Roman artist and designer, fascinated by the study of the poetry of conceptual art and its potential convergences with industrial design, designs an iridescent butterfly with its wings attached along the opposite side. In his design, Battiti (Beats), the bivalve shape of the mask becomes an occasion to consider things in nature that have a symmetrical and mirrored morphology, from seashells to birds and butterflies. The design features two wings that are sewn on their long side, contrary to how they occur in nature, generating a hybrid that reflects on the action of the artificial on the natural world and its effects on the ecosystem.
Gentucca Bini, Milanese stylist and designer, gives a wink to one of the rituals that we miss the most - the kiss - and does it with the wit that breaks conventions and gives unexpected results that defines her work. In her design, Kiss me Zorro, the component of identity play of the mask mixes with the protective component of the sanitary face mask. Typical costume of pop culture, here, Zorro is transformed into the hero of a story with a happy ending, where the goal is to protect others and ourselves without losing our sense of humour, with a spirit that combines cautiousness with fun.
It has a brightly coloured soul and a meaning that delves into the cultural anthropology, Gargolla (Gargoyle), the mask created by Milanese designer and artist Elena Salmistraro. The talismanic and superstitious effect is one of the strongest weapons of symbolic communication of images. Gargoyles of Gothic cathedrals are a clear example: their static function in the engineering of the cathedrals is accompanied by the symbolic repulsion of evil. The design of the mask recalls that ancient purpose with a contemporary key, used here to exorcise an invisible malediction and protect us from its real harmful effects.
Finally, Sissi (alias Daniela Olivieri) eclectic Bolognese artist and experimenter, whose research is characterised by a nearly scientific analysis of the human body and by the need to redesign forms. The fantastic anatomies of the artist take possession of a mask with a design that lives at the limits between botanical life and bodily physicality: her Fioritura linguale (Lingual flowering) is a flower made of tongues that provokes thought about speech repressed or modified by the use of this protective device, making our communication less verbal and more symbolic.
The authors worked together with the Alcantara R&D department, which developed ad hoc solutions to respond to the creative briefs and deliver as a result filtering face masks with precautionary purposes for the exclusive use of the general public : printed, laser cut, with different colours and patterns, the material once again proved itself a versatile medium, able to inspire and give form to creativity.
True art prints for daily use, the masks show how the content of a cultural study can be useful in daily life, giving the wider public the possibility to “protect oneself with art”.