Alessandro Pignocchi, comic book author: “My sabbatical years were decisive”

April 2018. Mobile gendarmes fire tear gas and deafening grenades during the last eviction operation from the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes (Loire-Atlantique). But the nightingale, on the three bushes that make up its territory, continues to sing. He crossed “Twice the Mediterranean and the Sahara while it weighs 20 grams”, so he holds on. This scene is taken from The Recomposition of Worlds (Threshold, 2019), the latest comic by Alessandro Pignocchi, nicknamed “the cartoonist anthropologist” by his publishing house.

Attracted to the ZAD for intellectual reasons, Alessandro Pignocchi, who left the world of university research for that of watercolor comics, discovered a new range of affects and a “Other relation to the world” in which plants, animals and the land interact as equals. He is also the author of a remarkable trilogy, Small treatise on wild ecology (Steinkis), who adopts the animist cosmogony of the Jivaro Indians to show us, sometimes cruelly, the absurdity of our Western civilization.

We meet him one morning at the Jardin des Plantes, in Paris, where, as a child, he followed the ornithological walks of the professor of natural sciences Jacques Penot with his mother. Under the stern gaze of the statue of Charles Darwin, he tells about his passions: birds, drawing, his mother, South America, the Jivaro, the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

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Where did you grow up ?

I was born in Athens, but then lived in Rome until I was 6 years old. From this Roman childhood, I have kept memories of my nursery school, an unorthodox school, where we were left to ourselves on a wooded and flowered hill in a slightly hippie atmosphere. The arrival in France was a tear. We settled with my mother in Paris, in the 11e arrondissement, in the Folie-Méricourt district – which was not yet the bobo district it has become. It was the end of the meadows and the woods. I was sitting in a classroom.

Did you develop a passion for birds from an early age?

In Paris, Jacques Penot, professor of natural sciences, organized ornithological walks on Wednesday and Sunday mornings in the Jardin des Plantes, in which retired ladies mainly participated, and I, a little child of 7, who hung out there. my mother, binoculars in hand to try to recognize the species. I had the memory and hearing of a child, so I learned quickly. Soon, that was not enough for me and I joined the Ornithological Center of Ile-de-France.

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Alessandro Pignocchi, comic book author: “My sabbatical years were decisive”