Pietro Marino, A Certain Look

A Certain Look

Tears – abundant and moving -have been shed in literature and films on the theme of exile, migration, and the loss of roots. Just as long, the string of nostòs has vibrated ever since Ulysses’ return.

Butit was neither exile nor returnthat was experienced by the seven-yearold girl who left the land where she was born fortheunknown land of her parents’ birth.

For her, it was a journey, that like life itself, you do not know where itwill lead you and when it will end. Shecould not takeher eyes away fromthe bus window until the house of her games on the outskirts of Buenos Aireshad disappeared, and her endless gaze was lost in the sea’s horizon, on the big ship taking her to Italy.

Adiòs, Argentina.

That sweet and thoughtfullook, the look of those who want to understand and understand themselves, now appearson the face of a young woman of distant origins, maybe from the Far East. An autobiographical confession that is embodied in all women, in all the creatures in the world of dispersion and diaspora. A different, obsessiverepetition, which is refracted and multiplied with slight body movements, with details of changing identity: what is allowed by our ageof standardization. Those eyes challenge us fromscattered panels, cutouts of a mosaic that repeats itstesserae without knowing how to put them together. Images fixed through a photographic sinopia, the chance encounter with a newspaper picture, precarious evidence of an anchoring to everyday life. But, then, held and plunged in thepale bath of a preciseas well as melancholic painting, suspended without substance on the anxious threshold of memory.

Memory as the thread of an erratic journey across the sense of the self, aboard a ghost ship, which also appears on a wall withfaded colors, like the Rex in Fellini’s Amarcord.

It is the journey started by Guillermina de Gennaro, now that her life has developed in the outskirts of another South.

But not by following the Proustian flow of time, a path that the crisis of modernity has stopped (as suggested by Heidegger): by grasping the fragments possible today, by collecting itsfragments, its voices, there where the lost childhood can live again, at least as fiction, in the present. So the artist pulls out of Plato’s cave the shadows of a group of musicians she used to listen toduring her childhood in Argentina.

Her father Francesco, her uncle Domenico, her friend Mario, who in their spare time played guitar, bandoneon and maracas for weddings and serenades, playing and singing tangos and boleros, waltz and zamba.

The journey and time have dissolved the Los Petalos trio.

The friend went to the United States. After coming to Bari, father and uncle haveput aside their instruments.

A video features them now as they play their music again, and the trio has become a quartet through the magic of generations.

There is uncle Domenico’sson, and there is even Guillermina herself, the little girl grown-up, trying to sing. This is almost a touching remake with a partial replacement of actors, butthe times are mixed up and the old innocence isdisturbed. Everything is given, but nothing is as before in this representation of a childhood dream that fades away. Like all dreams, it will soon vanish in black and white. Likewise, the music of South American folk dances, which creep into the spaces and paths of the exhibition, fade away, as if Los Petalos were still there with their serenades. On father Francesco’s music stand, the title of a songappears for a moment, “Que nadie sepa mi sufrir” – Nobody must know my sorrow.

Pietro Marino
art critic