… but I stress/everything upwards/strained and tested
between – between/man and woman or/earth and sky
as the Roman/awaiting that/Imperial thumb
in its Coliseum/suspended I/live or die. (Mario Petrucci )
The Fabulae Romanae project, commissioned by Ermenegildo Zegna and specifically conceived for MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome, operates within that interdisciplinary space where art, fashion, design, architecture and poetry co-exist, thus becoming a sentinel of the opening scenarios and complexity of our times.
The installation at MAXXI marks the debut of the special project ZegnArt and the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Italian menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna and Studio Orta. Curated by Maria Luisa Frisa, the exhibition presents mixed-media installations featuring dome dwellings, colourful parachutes, bundled sacks of used clothing and mannequins, wearable sculptures who interact with it all. We call them Spirits. They are not precise people, it’s more of a mirror on society.
We also took to the streets of Rome to create a video that brings the artwork to life, where the Spirits move, accompanied by the poems of Mario Petrucci, wearing the complex garments created with the assistance of Mio Jin, Lara Torres, Oliver Ruuger, Sum Yu Li, alumni from London College Fashion.
Fabulae Romanae thus becomes a symbolic excursus across the city of Rome through the eyes of its ethereal Spirits. As the film unfolds, these contemporary sentinels silently take over the city: we encounter the Traveller under the Castel Sant’Angelo bridge and in the Trastevere back streets; the Observer overlooking the Sacro Cuore dei Monti and the Isola Tiberina; the Tunneler and the Myth Maker in the Villa Gregoriana Park; the Flying Man, Chariot Rider, Memory Man, Bale Maker… We like to take art outside of museums and have it integrated into society in some way.
This project marked a pivotal moment not just for us as artists, for curators and companies involved, but also within a wider context of fashion’s interaction with the arts. By crossing the boundaries between disciplines in our practice we challenge conventional aesthetics, drawing a cultural and social map that encompasses the richness and diversity of human life.
Watch the Fabulae Romane film here