A Pothole of Art

2012/02/23 - Written by Laura Casella
Baywatch on Amalfi_Photography Davide Luciano and Claudia Ficca
Baywatch on Amalfi_Photography Davide Luciano and Claudia Ficca
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They make you jump out of your seat- literally. They are a common sight for Montreal motorists, and we do everything in our power to try and avoid them. Some are big, and some are small. They’re potholes. And after a cold winter season like ours, there are many. But here is how one Montreal couple is quickly transforming this nuisance into works of art.  Many would agree that potholes are a bad reflection on the city. They certainly don’t look good on our streets, and it can cost you a descent chunk of cash if you hit one. Which brings me to local Montreal-Italian artists, Davide Luciano and Claudia Ficca.

One day last spring they were driving around in their 1997 Jetta when suddenly... they hit a big pothole. The cost: $600 in damage. “Obviously our first reaction was to rant and rage about what had just happened,” explains Ficca, 28, a graduate in Literature and Italian studies from Concordia. “But then we thought- wouldn’t it be funny to see something going on in the pothole?”

It was from that moment that the “Potholes” project was born. The couple, who got married last summer, decided they would turn their bad experience with the gray, hollow hole into something creative. So they cashed in some of their savings from working at a restaurant and bar, grabbed a camera, and hit the road in search of the nicest potholes. “We would drive around the city scouting for the perfect pothole for each of our ideas,” says Luciano, 31, a film school grad. “Then when we’d find it, we’d stage a scene with all the necessary props, and take a picture.”

Their first idea was to photograph a woman washing clothes in a pothole. So they filled up their car with buckets of water, soap, laundry and a clothes rack. They found the perfect spot on St-Urbain and that is where they shot the “Laundry” scene. The woman in the picture is actually Claudia, and it also happens to be her husband Davide’s favourite picture. “It’s very Sophia Loren,” he gushes.

It was from that photo that their creative juices continued to flow. From an Olympic diver getting ready to dive into a “pool”, a man scooping a large “bowl” of spaghetti and meatballs, another man frying up donuts in a pothole on Bélanger street, and Claudia’s personal favourite, Davide crushing grapes with his bare feet in a pothole.

“For that scene we used all of Davide’s grandfather’s wine equipment,” Ficca laughs.“We left his house with all these things, and his grandfather is like, where are you going? You better bring all this stuff back!” This creative pair never imagined their project would become so successful or garner so much attention from people around the world. After holding their first exhibition in Montreal, the duo jetted off to L.A. and New York to set the stage for more pothole art.

“What people may not know,” says Ficca, “is that the potholes in LA are horrible. We know that hitting a pothole can touch a few personal cords, but we’ve learned through this experience that we are not alone. Potholes are everywhere!” But when asked which city has the worst roads between Montreal, New York, and Los Angeles, her partner, Luciano, hesitates. “That’s a tough question,” he ponders. “But I’d have to say Montreal just because I grew up here and I’ve been driving around this city my whole life.”

The artistic couple showed off their inspiring art for the first time in the States in beautiful NYC in February 2011 and recently participated to the Montreal en lumière 2012 contemporary arts exhibition. They say people are generally interested and curious about what they do but they also agree that Italians will especially relate to some of their pictures. “The shot for example of the guy eating spaghetti out of a pothole,” Luciano points out, “which Italian won’t look at that and think Sunday lunch?”.

“We are inspired by our culture and by who we are,” his wife goes on to say. “We don’t eat noodles out of a bowl, we eat spaghetti!” All in all, what Claudia and Davide have managed to do in such a simple way, is find beauty in a negative. “Now you can look at a pothole in a different light and laugh about it,” Ficca says.

And we’ll have plenty more to laugh about as the pair is working on 50 new ideas for their “Potholes” project, and with each picture, they’re slowly changing the way the world views those nasty craters.

To view the complete Potholes project visit their website at www.mypotholes.com

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