Sergio Boldrin has been making papier mâché masks for 40 years. They are traditional, for sure: characters from the Commedia dell’Arte (Zanni, Harlequin, Pantalone), jesters, goblins, suns and moons; a trip through 18th century Venice. Philippe Tabet is an industrial designer in his early thirties. So their working together might seem counterintuitive. However, as Doppia Firma shows, two minds seeking convergence often end up forming a natural alliance and being gratified by the results.
“This is the first time a futuristic twist has been given to the art of mask making, but there are subtle historical references, and I find that fascinating,” says Boldrin. He and Tabet worked with two popular masks of Venetian tradition: la Moretta, an all-black oval woman’s face with big eyes, held on the face by biting down on buttons attached to the inside, so as not to be able to speak.
The other is il Medico della Peste, the plague doctor’s mask. In the 17th century, when Venice was rife with the highly contagious disease, doctors donned a protective cloak and a mask with a large hooked beak. Stuffed inside the beak, aromatic herbs and dried flowers protected them from the pestilential stench of their patients.
Inspired by robot imagery and weird inventions, Tabet’s idea is a face mask with an air-purifying function to protect the wearer from the toxicity of pollution.
“This project is the fusion of two discrete universes, one industrial and the other traditional, whose decorative role has surpassed function. Here, the mask is functional again,” says Tabet.