These were created to be a specific size as part of the European Biennial “Manifesta” held in Trento and are called “AnamorPOSE” as a reference to anamorphosis.
Visually in movement, each titled mask is ritualised and then completed by the costume and the context/backdrop of photos taken by the artist and then combined using chroma keying. The flowers are those of RomAmor.
The first, at the top left, is OdeNodo and it recalls the old custom of tying a knot (nodo in Italian) in a handkerchief to help remember something. The mask of memory represents the non-decorative side of the mask, that is, the structural side as it sustains the work and is not merely an additional element.
Below this work is ACengCENgTO, a musical mask with metal plates. The sound plays on Ceng (Cent = Accent) and the work is in honour of Severini’s mosaics from a hundred years ago (see Eur in Rome).
The second two works are called “FamAE” and “FriVolo”. Both images pay homage to the flowering nature of the Apennines, with bushes of broom and a field of poppies clearly visible. FamAE comes from fame (Fama) and hunger (Fame), and it is a musical mask of a trumpet, an iconological representation of fortune. The name FriVolo is important as it plays with ideas across languages. The first sound is free, while the second is flight (volo), suggesting free flight, while frivolo is frivolous in English.
The third couple of works are entitled SciàMano and ATIV, and they depict the uneasy side of human nature. Ultimately, both works are about death. For example, the title of one of the works is ATIV, which is vita or life, backwards. In SciàMano, the artist is upside down, referencing death and suicide, with shamanic symbols from Bali on his fingertips (hence the title combining shaman and hand).
The work on the top right is FurbeRubeRia, and it is a tarot mask, a recurring theme in Ontani’s works. This mask recalls the ambivalence found in everyone, sometimes called the “double face” = social
The final lenticular photograph is PipìMenestrello, depicting chant and charm in costume.
The beauty of these works and the transformation of traditional masks resulted in some mask artisans and university students from Bali doing a dissertation on Ontani’s masks, a tribute to his art.