THE GREEK MICHA CATTAUI AND THE CHINESE ZHIJUN WANG SHOW DIFFERENT ART AND SOCIAL MEANINGS OF FACE MASK
Text by: Fiammetta Cesana
DRY Issue 9th, Classical / Heretical, features Antiquity 2.0 by the artist Micha Cattaui.
“Micha Cattaui documents ancient Greek sculptures through contemporary artifacts… A sculptural bust, for example, with a mobile phone, called “Menander”, the Greek dramatist who famously said “Evil communications corrupts good manners”. So the artist uses hellenic classicism to reflect upon our society and its new technological means of communication. He also represents “Hygeia”, the Greek goddess of health, eating an hamburger, in order to rise issues about contemporary consumption and alimentary controversies”. – Emilia van Lynden, Artistic Director of Unseen Amsterdam, annual art fair and contemporary photography festival
All images and interview with Emilia van Lynden on DRY Issue 9th, Classical / Heretical. The Artistic Director told us how classicism and the knowledge of the past intervene in the forefront of art photography as a tool to reflect on contemporary realms.
A mask is a multiple-edge sword. It gives protection, safety from external threats, escapism from social aesthetic conventions, but it can also supports crimes and aggressive actions. For Cattaui, the mask is what disguises past conjunctures with contemporary achievements.
While, for Zhijun Wang, the mask represents the need of changing our habits. The Chinese artist, who exhibited his face masks made from sneakers at Hidari Zingaro gallery in Tokyo and in a permeant exhibition at MoMa in New York, now have started to create his artwork-masks from Esselunga’s bags (the Italian supermarket chain) to focus the attention on Italy and the importance of mask’s use urged by the global spread of Covid-19.
“If the human being continues to destroy the ‘blue planet’, wearing a mask only as a temporary solution, we have to expect more and more ‘punishments’ ” – Wang argues
His art consists in obtain high design face masks from sneakers, of which Wang is a passionate collector. The Esselunga’s mask may be the first of a new capsule collections. “I always liked going to a local supermarket when I am in a new city, it is the best way to get to know the daily life of the people who live there. In my head, the yellow bag of the Esselunga could be the symbol of everyday life in Milan and Italy.”