Eerie, unnerving and upsetting, the Wall of Dolls is an artistic installation that leaves an impression on all who pass it on one of Milan’s central thoroughfares. Situated in the popular Ticinese district and near the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the wall is a highly poignant statement that both marks and condemns femicide and violence against women.
It’s hard to miss and ignore the wall, a gray mesh-covered backdrop decorated with dangling dolls of various kinds. Dried-up flowers, photos, posters, and poems are also posted up, some of them detailing statistics on crimes against women and some of them powerful statements written by victims to creatively stand up against their abusers.
The installation’s potency is perhaps enhanced as a result of its longevity, some of the dolls on display having hung outside in the open for several years. The imagery of dirty, dangling playthings, symbols of childhood innocence, alongside the names of murdered women is certainly jarring and succeeds in drawing attention to issues that are, sadly, still relevant. Members of the public are free to attach more things to the wall, and new dolls and artworks are added all the time.
The installation was the idea of singer-songwriter Jo Squillo and has been in place since Milan’s men’s fashion week of 2014. Every year during the week, Squillo and a group of volunteers gather members of the public around the wall in order to raise awareness and remember the victims of misogynist violence, whether physical or psychological. For the rest of the year, the dolls remain, a sad, silent statement of protest and commemoration.
Know Before You Go
The Wall of Dolls can be visited and seen any time as it's located on a major public road. It's relatively easy to find, located on Via Edmondo de Amicis just before the junction of Corso di Porta Ticinese where the street becomes Via Molino delle Armi. The Wall is directly opposite the small church of Parrochia Ortodossa Romena.There are numerous tram stops nearby, the closest being Colonne di San Lorenzo. The nearest Metro stations is Sant'Ambrogio which is just over 10 minutes' walk away directly up Via Edmondo de Amicis. Caution is advised for night visitors. Although the Ticinese area is a popular one with thriving nightlife, the nearby piazza and columns in front of the San Lorenzo Basilica have a reputation as a hotspot for drug dealing. The district is generally safe and attracts a lot of young people and tourists, but take care to avoid pickpockets, hawkers and people who wish to sell or buy weed.