“Taboo” by Federico Clapis


[Italian Version]

Someone made a statue of me.

No, I’m not dead. There’s no need to sell your autographed copy of my book. Yet.
I, the undersigned Marina Cuollo, am alive and well. Sometimes, on Sunday afternoons, I sleep in a comatose state – especially after grandma has made gnocchi – but I’m still here. My statue is not (yet) the effigy on my tombstone, it is a work of art. But let’s go back a few months.
In the spring of 2018, I met Federico Clapis, the multimedia artist – whose body of significant work, communicating a mind-blowing view of the world and everything in between – I have always appreciated.
When he decided to begin using Instagram, I immediately started following him. From then on, we communicated face to face: a guy who thinks outside the box meets a girl who can easily be contained – physically – in that box, but who does not have the slightest intention of staying there.
All of this, somehow, inspired Federico to create a work of great social impact which has me – the microwoman one meter and a peppermint high, the evil dwarf of her university friends, the crazy scribbler – as subject.

Needless to say, I was overcome with emotion from head to toe (wheels included).

Four years ago, Federico decided to follow his passions and live his artistic dream. Just like me. In 2016, I decided to enter the writer’s world with the hope of being able to live there. Because, ladies and gentlemen, to live your own art, as well as your own writing, takes dedication, hard work, and – above all – courage. So much courage.
And it was specifically this connection between Federico and I that returned me to origins: to my approach to the world, and to my mind and body. All my life I’ve tried to feed only my brain, my neurons, for two reasons: because it is my nature and therefore, inescapable, and because it helped me avoid being left alone with my appearance.


Because throughout my entire life, my exteriority has provoked conflicting reactions. I am disabled, and my body is not among those so-called “standard canons”. My body often generates the classic boiled-fish-pity-eye, and under many aspects becomes a source of discomfort for other people, especially when physical contact is necessary: a kiss, a hug, or even a handshake. What sometimes happens when meeting other people for the first time is an invisible filter forms that causes them to hesitate. I notice it almost every time.
When I see that filter, I begin to look at those before me in an attempt to figure out what’s going on in their heads: like, what’s the fear? Breaking me into pieces? Don’t panic, I’m not made of porcelain. Maybe they’re afraid I’ll bite off one of their fingers like a piranha? This hypothesis is actually more plausible.
In any case, what I witness is a fear of the unknown. This fear is what creates the filter.
Now comes an artist of unprecedented sensitivity who decides to take that aspect which, for most of my life, I’ve tried to avoid, and turn it into a work of art.

Can you imagine the impact this gesture has had on me?

That is exactly what I do when I write: I take my insecurities and self-irony to exorcise them. Federico took those insecurities transformed them into a work of art.
Could there ever be anything more beautiful? At the moment, I can not think of what it might be (maybe grandma’s gnocchi, sorry Federico, for taking second place…).
The word ‘muse’ is too big to belong to me, but to succeed somehow in being the source of inspiration for such a symbolic work of art fills me with joy. In any case, if my writing career fails, I will always have a future as a garden gnome.

Marina Cuollo

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