The myth of the CiucciaNebbia
The CiucciaNebbia (meaning ‘fog-sucker’) is a mythological creature that wonders the streets of Milan. Its body emerges at the intersection between the Milanese, the urban environment and the fine toxic fine particles that deposit on the surfaces of buildings. The Milanese’s architectural elements such as architraves, facades and main entrances are characterised by the presence of grotesque ornaments: morphological and monstrous creatures that in esoteric culture have the apotropaic power to protect the inhabitants and frighten away external evil spirits.
Nowadays these masks are covered by layers of black dust due to emissions from manufacturing processes, waste treatment and disposal, combustion in industry, and transport.
Gaia D'Arrigo’s project embodies the phenomenon of air pollution into a living being reflecting the human activities happening in the city.
The layers of smog that compose the skin of the Ciuccianebbia and the body of the city act as a spatio-temporal archive, mapping the air quality in Milan's neighbourhoods and embodying the industrial history of the city, along with the ideologies and lifestyle of its inhabitants.
Pollution is often portrayed as an external matter to human bodies and culture. Such a collective imaginary alienates the individual and the collectivity from the environmental issue and stigmatises physical symptoms instead of recognising the broader societal phenomena and identifying with them.
As with the CiucciaNebbia, the Milanese to are hybrid subjects, constantly interacting in mutual physical and imaginative transformation with pollution and industrialisation.
The Myth of the CiucciaNebbia is a multimedia installation that seeks to challenge the perceived boundaries between bodies and environments. It draws on material research and storytelling practices that traverse the urban environment, air pollution and Milanese culture, ultimately asking: Is pollution an external evil entity or a product of internalised cultural myths?
CiucciaNebbia’s skin is a patch made by samples of solidified liquid natural latex applied on urban surfaces. A technique to capture dust used in the restoration of cultural heritage and known by the work of the artist Jorge Otero-Pailos, architect, artist and author of “The ethics of dust”. This methodology allowed Gaia to investigate through material research the air quality of the Milanese neighbourhood by mapping the city and creating a living archive. The demonic look of the creature is inspired by the iconography of the Milanese grotesque mask and recreated on ceramic to make the mould. Afterwards, the mould was vacuumed, painted and cover with a layer of latex and a layer of sugar coal to mimic the texture stratify grainy pollution. The rest of the head is made from the same technique of the body - natural liquid latex casted on the polluted building.
Text submitted by the maker
Pollution, latex, organic latex
Gaia D'Arrigo, Tullio Grani