The Messengers

Artist: Agata Christi
Materials: Plaster and paint

'The Messengers' by Agata Christi won the Small Sculpture Prize 2022 Benefactors Emerging Artist Award.

$980 - sold

"The sculpture “The Messengers” is inspired by the last 2 years of pandemic and life turned upside down by the deadly virus. Its form is a reference to “il medico delle peste” or a “plague doctor” - an iconic physician figure common throughout Europe since the Middle Ages who collect the numbers of dead and infected people for demographic purposes. He became a symbol of death and disease, as he would be the last thing seen by the patients. Disguised in a peculiar costume with a trademark mask – a powerful, hooked nose resembling a long beak – that to this day remains to be a strong metaphor.

At the time of the plague, nothing was known about microbes or viruses. Rather, it was believed that disease was carried by spirits or “negative influences” that caused disorder in the patient's moods. The mask served, on the one hand, to physically prevent the spirits from entering the physician’s body and, on the other, to frighten them and drive those spirits away.

The artwork “The Messengers” is made of seven plague doctor masks. Over the past two and a half years we have watched a new plague creep across the seven continents of the modern world. We watched as the Messengers reported the daily toll to us seven days a week. The epidemic became real, making us face our fears and leading to questions about the nature of an invisible contagion. In modern times, we are all plague doctors, counting the dead and wearing our masks."