Balena Project


  • Publication edited
  • by Johan & Levi, Monza
  • cm 16,5 x 24
  • English and Italian version
  • Graphic designer: Chiara Neviani, Studiorieghe
  • Translated from Italian by William Lee

The Whale Theory. An animal imagery is the final leg of the journey of Balena Project.

The whale is an animal that appears only to those who wait: a colossal, glistening creature that, like Moby Dick, hides itself from view, “avoiding both hunters and philosophers.” The sudden and fatal encounter with the whale may occur at sea, or in the steep gorges of the Apennines, or in a museum, or while gazing at the stars. Throughout the centuries, the whale has been both a mythological monster and an inspiration for tales, both a food and a cult object. In short, an icon that obsessively engulfs things in its belly. Whales first fascinated artist Claudia Losi in 2004, sparking efforts that focused, through a variety of formats and initiatives, on a life-size traveling whale made of gray wool fabric. This living event, Whale Project, has toured different parts of the world, attracting stories, absorbing suggestions, constantly changing its appearance.

The Whale Theory, the latest outcome of this journey, is its literary manifestation. It is an artist’s book that contains strange and secret wonders and also serves as a compass for the long poetic experience, which it traces with illustrations, photographs and text. Inside are a number of contributions and expert viewpoints, as well as a chorus of voices that blend harmoniously into the whale song.

After taking a deep dive, Claudia Losi allows herself to be gracefully engulfed, returning with a marine geography of words and visions that have nurtured the whale archetype, both in her private imagination and in the minds of the general public. The result is an ode to the mystery of this massive inhabitant of the deep and the whale stories that have accompanied our history as human beings.

Texts by: Christopher Collins, Matteo Meschiari, Vinicio Capossela, Jean Rezzonico, Jean D’Yvoire, Gianni Pavan, Silvia Bottani, Tore Teglbjaerg, Mauro Sargiani, Petra Aprile, Sunaura Taylor, Gioia Laura Iannilli, Jurg Slabbert, Kate Pocklington, Philip Hoare.

The Whale Theory, 2019

Special Edition:
The Whale Theory, 2019
Limited Edition, 20 copies (numbered and signed)
In collaboration with Emiliano Biondelli

Each box contains a series of objects specially made or collected during the Whale’s journey. Each box is the same but different, just as a story, when passed from storyteller to storyteller, is transformed, enriched.