“There is an infinite amount of reasons to wear a mask,” says Adriano Renna, aka Proxima2000taur, whose facial creations synthesise modernity and nature in what he calls his ‘futuristic organic’ facial art. “There is the mask that hides your identity, the one that reveals your intentions, that corrects your flaws, that protects you, that transforms you.” For Renna, masks are a sartorial portal to the fantasised post-Earth city he calls Fondatia.
Evian bottles, plastic packaging, grass, flower petals, metal chains, laundry detergent and phone chargers; Renna scavenges his immediate surroundings and fashions ephemeral facial decorations out of anything and everything he can get his hands on. “I intuitively believe that I am able to ‘see through’ objects of any kind and consider their aesthetic potential, no matter their original value or purpose,” he says.

Combining and subverting the visual connotations of retrofuturism, Afrofuturism, cyberpunk, steampunk, tribalism, and mythology, Renna’s creations fuse nature and modernity instead of posing them as antithetical notions. “I feel like nature and technology have an absolutely similar way of working,” he affirms, citing the process of photosynthesis as “the highest-end technologic device.”

Upgrading trash to facial compositions, Renna’s work is a device for a visual narrative that revolves around the post-human life in the city of Fondatia, where residents worship water, feed off laboratory-made micronutrient pills and look out from 3D, pixelated windows. “Fondatia is a utopia… at least for me,” he says. “Does that change the whole meaning of a utopia? Maybe. I need one to survive though… Fondatia is my utopia.”
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Tell us more about yourself. Who is Proxima2000taur?
Proxima2000taur is a Fondatian citizen, with a clever eye and a high creative energy. He is passionate about expression and art in general. He also tries to be a better person every day.
What prompted you initially to channel your creativity through facial designs?
When I started my IG account, I was more fashion and outfit details oriented. I quickly realised that there were people way better than me in that field and that that scene was saturated. Also, I felt that my earlier posts were lacking emotions and expressivity.
One day, I just went with the flow by sticking chains and padlocks to my face – in a maximalist punk way – and I thought it looked very cool, expressive, original, etc., so I kept doing it. I honestly don’t really have a method, I freestyle a lot and sticking stuff to my face always feels right. Plus, it’s in between lots of different artistic fields I like, and from what I know of, it’s quite unique. I just try to create the art I would want to contemplate if it had existed already.
In your work, nature and modernity aren’t antithetical, resulting in something you have monikered ‘futuristic organic.’ How did you find your signature aesthetic?
I guess I’ve been really inspired by both of those two worlds. Futuristic stuff is fascinating and so is nature. I feel like nature and technology have an absolutely similar way of working. Take any biological process, photosynthesis for example, the way it transforms the sunlight into ‘food’ for a plant or whatever definitely sounds like the highest-end technologic device. This is why I like to make them symmetrical and not antithetical.
Also, since I was a kid, I’ve been fed with lots of aesthetic influences and narratives such as retrofuturism, Afrofuturism, cyberpunk, steampunk but also tribal cultures, ancient times, mythology, lost empires, etc. I guess I’m constantly digesting the infinite amount of inspirational images that I encounter, and that’s how you can taste a bit of them in my creations.
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A lot of your inspirations are personal, drawn from childhood memories and sensations. Could you tell us about any specific memories and experiences that recur in your work?
My emotions inspire me a lot. Some of my creations were a very straight-forward expression of a precise emotion. Like a quick, one-shot artwork. Others are inspired by life-long, everlasting feelings that I carry. You ask for a specific memory. I can mention feeling out of place among people that are supposed to accept you; feeling shameful or being humiliated when I was a kid, especially at school. I recall lots of bullying and rejection, and some of the pictures where I’m flexing my bicep may be a low-key way of showing that I chose to be stronger despite what happened to me.
Your creations exist in a fantasised post-Earth city that you have called Fondatia. Tell us more about this place. Is it a utopia or dystopia?
Definitely utopia even though I depicted it as a slight dystopia once. That special time was maybe to show its potential limits, where someone’s utopia may be someone else’s dystopia. But Fondatia is definitely a utopia… at least for me. Does that change the whole meaning of a utopia? Maybe. I need one to survive though… Fondatia is my utopia. But of course, everyone is welcome in Fondatia because there is so much space.
Recently, we have seen an emergence of various mask-makers and artists who utilise face as their main medium. There is an entire IG account, @fashion_for_bank_robbers dedicated to contemporary masks and headpieces. What do you think is about obstructing, deforming, enhancing and hiding the face that works so effectively as an artistic expression?
Still waiting to be featured on their account to be honest (laughs). More seriously, I agree with you. I’m also seeing more and more face mask-inspired works. Masks have always been part of human culture, since the dawn of time. Lots of ethnography studies show the importance of masks (and fashion by extension) in a given culture, especially in tribes. I believe that nowadays, the urge of using the power of the mask is still around.
There is an infinite number of reasons to wear a mask. There is the mask that hides your identity, the one that reveals your intentions, that corrects your flaws, that protects you, that transforms you, etc. The mask frees you from your appearance and allows you to choose who you are. It’s not always about hiding, it’s also about showing. Talking about the mask is talking about the human and how he represents himself as the Other. It’s a very wide and interesting topic. I think that I’m just another human fascinated by the power of disguise and need to explore the ways it makes me feel strong emotions.
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Plants, flowers, chains, smartphone chargers, plastic bottles, feathers; Your work juxtaposes and unifies ephemeral materials with plastic waste and symbols of modern society. How do you choose the materials that you want to work with?
This is related to what I was saying before, about the origins of my current aesthetic. Art is obviously a hobby, and I don’t have the time nor the money to invest in expensive clothes or materials. So I just do it the easy way, by using anything that is handy and easy to reach. Our daily life is full of waste that ends up in the ocean. We under-use too many things. I thought that it was a great idea to make all this waste material last a bit longer. Instead of throwing away a broken object or a food package, I keep it aside and give it a shine later via my creation.
The second element of the answer is, I guess, my eye sensibility. I intuitively believe that I am able to ‘see through’ objects of any kind and consider their aesthetic potential, no matter their original value or purpose. If you combine this with previous influences I talked about, you understand why the use of modern waste is interesting in the art and narrative I’m trying to develop.
Would you consider venturing out and applying your aesthetics to different practices? What would that practice be?
Absolutely! This is absolutely a goal. I would work in any field where the visuals are key. Fashion, photography, cinema, short films… Music videos would be awesome. And video games, yes, character design – that would be insanely fun!
Would you work as a makeup artist for others? Applying your creations (or thinking of new ones) to other people?
I don’t consider myself a makeup artist but yes, I would apply my creations to others! People with way more beautiful and photogenic physique than mine. Mariano di Vaio, Bogdan Romanovic, Tyson Beckford – if you guys read me…
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The themes that your work explores stem from the discussions, debates and sartorial predictions such as technology versus nature, the faith of humanity and a ‘fashion-victim’ look of the future. Would you consider your work as a visual critique of these issues? And what message do you want to convey through your work?
Honestly, I try to stay as least political as possible. I’m interested in visual exploration and expression of creative energy. Of course, I’m sensitive about the human condition, the way we behave towards each other, or towards topics like fast fashion, mass consumption, and the future we’re building day by day. But I try not to give more than just hints about my attitudes towards those issues. What matters for me is making people feel things. Then, if they understand my vision, if they are able to interpret my art and be inspired by it, in their own understanding of those issues, it’s a huge bonus for me!
This year, we have faced devastating events that have arisen from environmental catastrophes, global pandemics, prevailing human injustice; the events that might indicate that we are not as far from ‘apocalypse’ as we thought we were. How do you envision the face of humanity after the foreseeable ‘end times’ that your work explores?
What a tough and interesting question. Also, very spot on, since I’m currently working on prospective history for my master thesis. What I’ve learned so far about projection, in general, is that future doesn’t exist per se. We have to build it. It’s a constructivist approach and it keeps me optimistic about our future. That’s why Fondatia is a utopia. It’s definitely positive and hopeful: it’s a prerequisite if we want to recover from all the devastating events that have happened recently. What has humanity been doing since its birth? Evolve. Improve, adapt, overcome. I feel like evolution is deeply rooted inside our genetic code and we have to keep trusting the process of evolution if we want to prevent the “end times'. I said prevent, not avoid.
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