Sculptor “Unzips” a Building in Milan for Mind-Bending Art Installation

Alex Chinneck Installation in Milan

British sculptor Alex Chinneck has brought his mind-bending illusions to Italy with an incredible installation in Milan. Concurrently with Milan Design Week, Chinneck has literally unzipped the facade of a building in the city in what he calls the most ambitious work he's ever made. In addition to the incredible exterior, the building's interior is also filled with several installations that carry through the zipper theme, making for a cohesive and immersive experience.

In collaboration with Philip Morris' IQOS brand, Chinneck worked to playfully transform the building's architecture. Using the chunky masonry that is typical of Italian architecture, Chinneck created the zipper and “peeled” back a layer of the building to reveal a glowing light that alternates between white and blue.

“I like to give fluidity to typically inflexible things, transcending their material nature,” Chinneck told My Modern Met in 2018. This statement clearly still holds true, as his studio (working with engineers and illustrators) was once again able to manipulate our expectations. While he hasn't revealed precisely how he was able to peel back the 56-foot (17-meter) wide facade, in the past a composite of cement and flexible materials have helped him create his illusions.

For his first installation in Italy, Chinneck did not limit himself to one sculpture. Stepping inside, visitors are greeted by several other zippers—one on a wall and the other on the floor. “Through the repeated use of the zipper, we have opened up the fabric of a seemingly historic Milanese building to playfully reimagine what lies behind its facade, floors, and walls,” says Chinneck.

In a testament to his dedication, Chinneck actually excavated and repoured the entire cement floor in order to achieve the circular zipper he was after. To round out the collection of work, a white light emanates from behind a zipper sliding down one of the building's walls.

“Ethereal light pours through each opening, filling the space with color and filling the work with a sense of positivity and potential,” Chinneck explains. “By taking familiar materials and architectural forms and making them behave in extraordinary ways, we are working with IQOS to change visitors' perceptions of what is possible.”

Chinneck's installation is visible at via Tortona 31 in Milan until April 14, 2019.

Alex Chinneck has unzipped the facade of a building in Milan for his first art installation in Italy.

Alex Chinneck Sculpture in Milan

Alex Chinneck Sculpture for Milan Design Week

The work carries through to the interior, where additional sculptures continue to play with the concept of zippers.

Sculpture Illusion by Alex Chinneck

Alex Chinneck's Unzipped Wall

Alex Chinneck with IQOS at Milan Design Week

Alex Chinneck: Website | Instagram
h/t: [dezeen, dwell]

All images via Marc Wilmot.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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