Many Bolognesi grew up seeing this symbol around the city. Though many rumors surrounded the meaning and artist behind these figures and no one knew exactly what it meant, it definitely made them feel something. It represented something unspoken.
I met Peabrain at a rooftop birthday party on a deliciously warm night in Bologna. The wine was plentiful (you never show up without a gift and it’s usually a bottle of wine), the food delicious and all the Italian language flowing around me still undecipherable so early in my stay. My friend White Raven told me that there was a famous female graffiti artist there. I insisted that he point her out and take me to meet her. And oh yeah, he needed to tell her that I would not go away until she’d spoken to me. It was noisy and crowded and I didn’t understand her, but I needed at least her email, ya know? I had to get her story.
Mind always wandering in school, Monica Cuoghi started to draw first on the school desks and later her arms, as she was often scolded by her teachers. Her imagination always bore whimsical creatures with odd almond shaped faces, bodies and different parts of animals with wings.
After high school, she attended and graduated from Bologna’s Academy of Fine Arts with a thesis entitled ““Fluffy Cunt and Shaved Pussy Go To The Seaside”, made together with Simonetta Perlini. It was an edition of beautiful parts of blue movies, and black and white shootings of the city. It showed the societies squalor as opposed to the pink sweetness of the blue movie. It was spaced out by elementary-written sentences, most of them in a Dada style.”
At 21, Cane Cotto (cooked dog), well-known for his transcendent installations, city wall art and multi-dimensional artistic pieces, took Monica out for a night of painting on the walls of Bologna. From then on, she was hooked. She nicknamed herself Cervello di Pisello (Peabrain) and became completely enthralled with this new relationship between herself and the streets, sidewalks, buildings, walls and every possible surface of Bologna.
“Writing on the walls is a visual ri-appropriation of the city, of our places, of sources of knowledge and congregation fellowship. Yes! To fight the hypocrisy of the clean and tidy surface, where people leave wakes of dirty thoughts, people who are loosing their conscience, who are only able to defend themselves with their appearance. (…) It’s Peabrain that has decided to arrive …”
Peabrain’s most well-known figure is that of a bird/goose. Why this figure? She feels as if this animal, among her others, chose her! Perhaps it was a figure from her Egyptian past life and she really loved how the long legs would eat up the large surfaces she chose as her canvas.
She has been able to exist solely in and for her art. In the past, Peabrain and Cane squatted warehouses and industrial parks so they could make art all day and every day. To them, squatting was at once art and civil disobedience in a fight against normalcy, but being proud and taking ownership of their city. And she has been fortunate enough to always have had respect in her area of passion.
Among painting the walls of the city, creating thought provoking installations and inspiring those to think and grow with her art, Peabrain (along with her partner in crime, Cane Cotto) have also had many exhibitions of work in really unexpected places.
Peabrain, being on a whole other planet of consciousness than I, was kind enough to answer some of my everyday ‘ole mundane questions.