Tarma / Moth, 1998

Clemen Parrocchetti,Object embroidered with wool thread on cloth and wire, 47 × 38 × 22 cm

In the 1990s – inspired by the moths festering in her own closet and consuming her textile artworks – Parrocchetti began depicting common moths as intricate and resilient creatures. These studies, which also included lice, grasshoppers, scorpions, cockroaches, spiders and bugs, challenged her subjects’ ordinariness and presented these creatures as potent lifeforms.

Parrocchetti’s interest became deeply methodic once she began visiting the Sormani Library in Milan to retrieve natural history manuals and zoology texts. She would photocopy sections of them (especially those with anatomical reproductions of insects), and often jotted down or transcribed definitions of the different species she came across. After meeting with the entomologist at the Museum of Natural History, she drew her first artwork titled In picchiata nei panni (Nosediving in the cloths) (1997) following scientific illustrations.

From 1998, she also began making sculptural interpretations. While interested by the moths’ perception as “ugly, grey, tiny, invisible” creatures, she began to see their lives parallel lives to humans, even cohabitating in the same home. Moreover, she saw her own practice as a textile artist in opposition to the moths, as clothes moths were a real threat to preserving her artworks

Regarding her sculptures, she noted: “With gauze and iron and copper, I built some moth-sculptures, quite vexatious, and eye-catching, and I put them in a kind of perspex casing as if they were being grounded, and they could no longer do harm, imprisoned as they were. Finally harmless and enclosed in a kind of coat sheath, they could never eat again!” In her plexiglass cases, she also included swatches of fabric damaged by the moths living in her own home and studio, seen in Tarma / Moth (1998) underneath the cloth-mesh wings and its insect body. While it was a complex relationship, Parrocchetti handled her subjects with deeply compassionate, and humor, to shed light on their vitality while also preserving and enlarging their presence and proximity to her own life.