“Lares” is an ongoing project about the relationship with the death of pets. I have met several families who decided to keep in their homes the body of the animal they loved, embalmed, in the form of a skeleton, or in formalin.
What may seem an anomaly is actually a more widespread practice and it responds to a deep emotional and relational lack.
I managed to gain access to such an emotionally sensitive space thanks to the research that led me to Alberto Michelon, the only Italian taxidermist who put his job at the service of private individuals. Taxidermy for the common imagination is mainly linked to hunting, trophies, museum exhibitions; the same people I met thought their were isolated and rare cases, but that’s not true. Instead, little by little, the journeys I made from Padua to Naples, from Venice to Rome, in rich or modest homes, between young people, families with children or singles, are revealing a more transversal needing than what is thought.
“Lares” refers to the statues of the spirits of ancestors, protectors, according to Roman civilization, of home and family. Like those statues, even dead animals are preserved in places of daily life. And it is there, in a living room, in the kitchen, or in the office, that I wanted to set the family portraits. The choice to preserve the body of a pet is dictated by several different motivations and inclinations. We have Laura, very passionate about anatomy, Aida who wants to feel less alone or Rocco who raises parrots and who has decided to embalm “Asia”, the most beautiful he has ever had. But also Chiara, whose puppy Monci that was born in Texas from the same litter as Jessica Simpson’s dog or the circus knife thrower Marco, whose embalmed parrot overlooks from the ticket office window.