Ants dig very long underground tunnels and, among them, those ants stand out which are responsible for building complex structures, inside which the community will be able to spend the winter, with storesfull of food. Swallows build nests by weaving straw, grasses and shrubs in such a skillful way as to find them intact upon returning from their seasonal migration. Aburrow, a shell or skin, dug in the ground or built on a tree, ahome is not only a shelter, but is a symbol that binds living species in the name of a common vulnerability. What does home mean for each species and in how many ways does each one build it? To study birds, bees, giraffes and theirdeep and secret relationship with their home has been, for years, the obscure desire driving Guillermina De Gennaro’s artistic research. The main reason was, perhaps, the nostalgia of the first welcoming home, of which humans have just a dimmemory of amniotic waters.
Her journey took her back in time, to the little girl who woulddraw a triangle above a square on a sheet of paperand, looking up at the sky, would see flocks of swallows and follow their sound trajectories.
“Even we humansare living in a geography that first of all marks a territory, and then, traces the perimeter where we build our home and decide to protect ourselves, to create and develop our life. Therefore, our birthplace is more than a home, it is a dreaming place, where each floor, attic, bedroom, cellar and corridor becomes the refuge of our loneliness, of our thoughts”, the artist then wrote in her notebooks.
In the Eighties, Guillermina first showed me her paper hives, from which swarms of bees flowed out. She was fascinated by their ancient knowledge, their hard work, their social organization thatwas evident in their production ofhoney. Her attention mostly focused on the skillful constructionof the hives and on the desire to penetrate their secret, thus retracing a research carried out many years before, also by Paul Klee.
Sometimes, art looks at the mysteries of nature to find answers to the greater mystery of creation. And this was the path followed by Guillermina, whose study of visionary philosopher Gaston Bachelard opened new horizons on what bound the inhabitants of the planet to their home asboth physical and mental places, asgeographical and inner spaces.
Using paper and glue, the artist began to create combs, symbolic objects, imaginary projections of an idea of home, born from asynthesis of burrows, shells, nests, hives and human dwellings. In the encounter and comparison with the archetype of the dwelling, the artist has created fantastic places where to cherish the dream of a dialogue among different species, the utopia of a poetic coexistence of living beings. After birds and bees, the artist began to observe giraffes.
“Why are you fascinated by giraffes?” I asked her.
“They are creaturesthat are beautifullyset down on earth, almost unsuitable here, and in search of a new gravity force,” Guillermina answered me.
I too was fascinated by those strange animals, maybe because of their shambling walk, because they are alwaysabsent-minded and with their head in the clouds.
Where and how do giraffes build their home? I had wonderedabout that so many times, until Guillermina resolved the puzzle: “It’s their speckled and piebald skin that serves as a nest, a kennel, a burrow, a secret dwelling”.
Anddid you manage to build your own home?
“Currently – she answered – I’m still looking for my lost home, perhaps the one I left in the other hemisphere when I was a little girl, which Ilooked at until it became a white dot, lost in the blurred horizon,and which still keeps all my secrets”.