Aspiranti Aspiratori, Italian artist Sissi's new show at the Elica AirFactory space in Milan, takes its title from a broader project that the artist created during almost a year of collaboration with the Fondazione Ermanno Casoli and Elica, that has supported foundation activities since 2007. In fact, in March 2011, the artistic director of the Fondazione Casoli, Marcello Smarrelli, asked Sissi to work with Elica in thinking about air purification in order to complement their established production of cooker hoods for domestic use.
Thinking about an air purifier was the request of the Fabriano company that wanted to develop the product's concept starting from a new perspective. Sissi's response was the introduction of a training program that involved the entire company and that also became "artistic." Working on the rebirth of thinking and producing — assembling different materials manufactured or produced by the artist herself by hand weaving more or less wide wicker strips and adding more or less colored fabrics and mesh — is a fundamental part of her artistic practice.
The centrality of the artist's body, present in the very process of the transformation of the materials, becomes an integral part of the process. "The body," Sissi explains, "is a workplace, a piece of paper on which to write, a means of expression."
Performance, moreover, has always been Sissi's most congenial expression. Her deep passion for the body's functioning emerged as early as in 1999, when she was still at the Academy of Bologna, with the production of Anatomia parallela [parallel anatomy], a limited edition artist book that analyzed the body's workings through emotions.
Even her stage name, Sissi, is a performance. Currently among the most popular young Italian artists — she won the Furla Art Prize in 2002, the New York Prize 2005-2006 and has had solo and group exhibitions: Nests, at the Macro in Rome; Testing, for the Italy Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009; and Addosso, curated by Angela Vettese in the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation in Milan —, she likes to call the organism "sprawling" and "expansive" with a somehow germinative power, capable of developing identity.
The body, which is "a tool, a communication method" for the artist, was identified in this project for Elica with the industry itself. The industry (Elica) hosted the artist who was able to familiarize herself with the environment until she made it coincide with her body and fill it with content (germination, identity).
Her integration with the company took place in stages, "I wanted the prototype developers and engineers with whom I worked to accept me in their workplace, organized in well-defined positions," she says, "but I decided to break the rhythm of the desks by introducing my space: Cubatrice ".
A 3mx3mx3m white cube used for visualizing the presence of the artist in the industry's body, Cubatrice had the function of accommodating personal interpretations, subjective emotions and references which gradually took on exterior form and texture. Taking a taxonomic approach, an archive of drawings, images, functions, various identities that inhabited the artist's body was created inside the Cubatrice space.
Hence ten proposals for potential range-hoods were born with evocative names like Riflettente, Nidifico Angolare, Ostriature, Mucosa Cigliosa, Mucosa Diaframmatica, Grappologico, Capillare, Pollinea, Continentale, Parete d'Asporto. Over the next year, Elica established the goal of formalizing one of these proposals in order to produce a hood. As emphasized by Marcello Smarrelli, the exhibition's curator, the ability to change the DNA of things and to create new forms and materials could be a starting point for creating an unconventional and innovative product.
The project can be viewed at Aspiranti Aspiratori, 2012. View of the Cubatrice in the prototype room, Elica Fabriano. Photo by Ramiro Castro Xiques, courtesy Fondazione Ermanno Casoli " alt="Sissi, Aspiranti Aspiratori, 2012. View of the Cubatrice in the prototype room, Elica Fabriano. Photo by Ramiro Castro Xiques, courtesy Fondazione Ermanno Casoli " style="max-width:960px;"/>