Inspiration sometimes comes from the most bizarre and unlikely places. During summer for example I’ve been taking pictures of lamp posts and lamps everytime I encountered one that I particularly like and then made a moodboard.
Lamp posts in St Peter’s Square in Rome and under the colonnade and lamp posts in Venice were definitely my favourite ones, and in the weeks and months that followed I worked along these themes to find materials that could help me creating a new piece.
One strong inspiration was also light and the will to capture that moment between the night and the early hours of the morning when lamp posts are switched off. This is a nostalgic moment in a way, as the magic of the night fades away and reality destroys the dream and the illusion of the darkness.
Obviously architecture had to come in as well since lamp posts are found in urban areas. Though very satisfied with my latest pieces incorporating drift wood I wanted to push things further while retaining the architectural aspect. But how could I come up with something architectural, nostalgic and bizarre at the same time?
Technology in the end came to my rescue and I opted for an interactive necklace that can be switched on and off. A button allows you to switch all the lamp posts on or off or to switch five on and one off, to symbolically hint at the reality of the morning seeping into the dream of the night and shattering it.
Lamp posts are city landmarks, but in this case they can also be interpreted as life landmarks (hence the title of the necklace) because they mark the time passing from the night to dawn.
Since the wearer regulates the light this can’t be considered as a behavioural piece, but as an interactive necklace that allows those who wear to keep on living the last and nostalgic hours of the night, come back to reality or go back to the safe and dreamy illusion provided by the darkness (or signal to other people surrounding them something by switching on/off the lights).
I admit there were a few moments of desperation behind this piece, first caused by how to build the electric circuit and isolate one of the lights, then by the battery that had to go in (followed by more minor tragedies involving the tiniest bulbs…) while making sure that the final piece was still wearable.
Yet hours of researches gave brilliant results and also helped me finding the foam polystyrene sheets for the bridge, walls and pavement (the piece is almost entirely made out of polystyrene sheets and even with the battery it weights less than 120 gr). The care I put into the materials comes from my personal almost obsessive experience in recreating Nativity scenes as a child and a teenager.
The mood also calls back to mind a 1955 Italian song entitled “Vecchio Frack” (literally “Old Tuxedo”) sung by Domenico Modugno. The song told the story of a mysterious man walking alone in the silent and deserted streets at night. The man is wearing a tuxedo, white waistcoat, blue silk bow tie and diamond cufflinks, a gardenia flower in his buttonhole, and a top hat and he’s carrying a crystal stick. He is dreamy and nostalgic, and, as he walks, he says goodbye to all the things he passes by, from lamp posts to a stray cat. As the song progresses and the night turns into the day, the lyrics picture a very different scene, a top hat and a flower floating in a river hinting at the man committing suicide.
The story behind the track was indeed inspired by the inexplicable suicide of an Italian prince occurred in 1954. Somehow I find this story as very contemporary: we are living in very confusing times and we often feel inadequate when facing life’s challenges. The song always left me with a personal doubt that is also tackled by the necklace: would the prince have committed suicide if the lamp posts had never been switched off and the night had lasted forever?