Yesterday I visited one of my friend, Luci Callipari-Marcuzzo’s live art performances at the Museo Italiano Language and Cultural Centre in Carlton. For three days Luci has sat at a small table in the entrance to the Museo, dressed in a similar fashion to her ancestors, embroidering much like her mother, grandmother and great grandmother before her, creating small works of art with images which relate to Italian proverbs. These live performances form part of Luci’s Master of Visual Arts project, “Famiglia: tracing the impact of the Calabrian diaspora on the cultural sphere of North-West Victoria. Explorations through performance, video and relational art.” You can follow Luci’s project here: https://www.facebook.com/lucicalliparimarcuzzocalabriaresearch/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf
While researching her project, Luci visited Italy, interviewing townspeople from Calabria, as well as travelling to places of cultural, creative and religious significance. Her research reminded me of my own trips to Europe, specifically Germany and Latvia, in an attempt to find out more about my father, his family and his war story. I too tried to trace his past, connecting places and images with history. My research resulted in a manuscript which, hopefully, will one day be published. Luci’s research is constantly evolving into numerous works of art which she lovingly creates in public spaces, letting everyone partake in the moment of creation.
As I sat and watched, and as we chatted, Luci worked on an embroidery of the full moon. I was envious of her ability to concentrate on both her art work and our conversation. The table she sat behind was draped with an embroidered cloth which her mother had made. The embroidery was exquisite. If you turned it over you could not see the difference between the front and the back. There were no threads hanging, no ungainly stitches. Luci laughingly showed me the back of her work which, if you looked very closely, was not as perfect as her mother’s. But for me the small bits of thread at the back of the artwork were the very reason it was beautiful. I believe it was Marilyn Monroe who said, “Imperfection is Beauty.”
Just as the mistakes I almost certainly made with my conclusions about my father’s story, the loose threads at the back of Luci’s artwork remind us of the myriad of fragments we must attempt to put together as we travel back in time, tracing our roots, trying to make sense of our families place in history. We will never be certain of the thoughts of our ancestors, or of their emotions. We will never be able to find out why they did the things they did. We can only try to recreate their actions, sentence by sentence; stitch by stitch, in order to create an image which we can relate to, or feel happy with or, at the very least, satisfies our curiousity.