Milan-based photographer Gianluigi di Napoli is preparing an exhibition that features his work from MASKS 2014 and MASKS 2016. The exhibit is set to be opened in August at Expo Gate, Milan, as part of the XX Triennale Expo Gate 1T. If you are not familiar with the Triennale di Milano, it is similar to the Tate Gallery in London as well as the MOMA in New York.
Di Napoli began his MASKS project in cooperation with the Associazione Ipertensione Polmonare Italiana (AIPI) in 2014. Their main objective was to bring attention to the degenerative disease as well as support the various activities of the association.
The AIPI was established by a group of people suffering from pulmonary arterial hypertension in 2001. It is an association for the research and treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, which is a rare degenerative disease. It is disabling and it mostly affects women. This is why MASKS featured female models to represent the cause.
MASKS 2014 is the first edition. It involved twelve well-renowned Italian women from the industries of sports, culture, music, and entertainment. They posed for a calendar with their faces painted as if they were wearing a clown mask.
MASKS 2016 features Federica Pellegrini as the sole protagonist. Her facial makeup is more nuanced and lighter to symbolize the distinctive elements of the degenerative disease.
Pellegrini was also featured in MASKS 2014. In the second edition, however, she is the only one who interprets the air, flowers, and the color blue in photographs. As a swimmer, how are you supposed to compete without being able to control your breathing? The color blue represents victory. After all, it is the national color of Italy. Flowers represent femininity and introduce the themes of continuity, lightness, and change.
Di Napoli chose the theme of masks for his project after being inspired by a book written by Henry Miller. It is about a clown wanting to express his love and discoveries about life instead of receiving applause and laughter for his art. The clown’s mask may touch a healthy and deep part of yourself as well as allow you to recognize that of other people.
Di Napoli added that the degenerative disease often forces the patient to wear a mask and hide the truth to her loved ones and even to herself. At the same time, it gives her the energy to face the world.