Mammals change their skin continually through a gradual process of flaking, the snakes leave the old one all together. The suit of the serpent is the sign of its transformation, of its passage on earth and of its need for change.
This animal, as Aby Warburg recounts in his book The Serpent Ritual, was involved in a ceremony of the Moki Indians (New Mexico). The snake was considered by them to be a totemic ancestor, a meteorological divinity and a propitiatory messenger of the storm, always present in the legends of the origins. In August, the critical period of drought for agriculture-related activities, these live animals were first subjected as initiates to the mysteries and purification rites, then they were thrown on a painting made with sand as representatives of lightning-snakes, so as to enter the colour and blend into it. During this ritual the dancers wore rattle ornaments and joined the snakes to invoke a thunderstorm through their powerful mediation: so the men and the live animal, as Warburg points out, formed a magical union so that harmony could soothe, without the use of violence, even the rattlesnake, one of the most dangerous reptiles on earth.
The work The Moulting is formed by the exuvia of three different types of snakes: the Desert Cobra, the Viper Aspis Atra and the Cervone. The soul of the sculptural elements is the very mutation of the animals, the trace and metaphor of transformation, a process that continues in the work thanks to the galvanization technique: the layer of copper that covers the scales preserves the animal's skin inside, joining inseparably to it, and at the same time continuing the transformation through the oxidation taking place on the material. These new lightning-snakes are then suspended at different heights thanks to a hemp rope.

We thank the Center of Natural Sciences of Prato for their collaboration and precious help.


LA MUTA / THE MOULTING - copper, snakeskin (Desert Cobra, Viper Aspis Atra, Cervone), hemp rope - environmental dimensions - 2019 (work in progress)