Art Insure

Casa Cavazzini

The Remains of the Father - Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance)

Bridget Baker
The Remains of the Father - Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance), Film Still: HD video with audio , 24min


Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art via Cavour 14 Udine Italy

Hours: Winter hours (October 1 to April 30): from 10.30 to 17.00 Saturday and Sunday : from 10.30 to 19.30 Closed on Tuesdays Summer hours (May 1 to September 30): from 10.30 to 19.00 Closed on Tuesdays


Bridget Baker at Casa Cavazzini

'The Remains of the Father – Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance)' underpins Bridget Baker's stylistic approach, that of  personal spectator as essayist.  For 'The Remains' Baker considers recent histories marginally remembered in contemporary Italian historiography - that of the Italian colonial period in Eritrea and Ethiopia, by re-imaging the "found" subject in a film that refuses to merely reconstruct colonial historic time. 

A filmic pendulum swings stylistically between 1936 to 1941, and now. Through the discovery by an Eritrean researcher, Lula Teclehaimanot, of a colonial archive of official and non-official ethnographic literature collected by a Bolognese couple who were stationed in Eritrea before and during WWII. The couple, Giovanni Ellero, a colonial administrator, and his wife Maria Pia Pezzoli  worked there for the 'Ministry of Italian Africa'.

These documents gathered for purposes of colonial power testify to the basic need for scrupulous understanding of precolonial governance, in order to maintain power, but also to prevent possible forms of opposition in the wake of 'empire making'. Some of the documents found are Eritrean and Ethiopian proverbs, farming and genealogical reports, hand drawn maps, family emblems, and personal letters and diaries of individuals in Eritrea. Strangely, amongst these are a few interpretative architectural sketches, uncharacteristic of the Italian futurist-style buildings found in Asmara of that period, termed 'Villetta Impero'.

The work drifts the spectator in and out of rational audibility; brevity of time is lengthened by slow and protracted shots while a non-spatial continuum is evident in the light changes from daytime to evening.  While she works Lula listens to a radio interview conducted in Italian, Tigryna and Amharic about the contemporary relevance of proverbs in Eritrean and Ethiopian societies, whilst her own family history, her family tree and the Teclehaimanot family seal collated before she was born, becomes traceable through a re-reading of Ellero's archive. 

'The Remains' offers a shift, not through a reading based on negation, but by "re-imaging" these forgotten histories through the 'found', the transmitted voice, and interpreted language. Leveraging these as indicators, not only of domination but of solidarity, back into contemporary history-making, and offering relational views on the reading of history and the creation of knowledge.

The work is the result of a residence programme undertaken by Baker in Bologna during the course of 2011/12 at the invitation of Elisa Del Prete at Nosadella.due – Independent Residency for Public Art. During this period Baker developed her project through various explorations of Italy’s archives and libraries, meeting with historians, cinema experts, a psychologist, a sociologist, architects, a writer, a political researcher, and a restaurant owner – from whom emerged a critical point of view on the subject of Italian colonial hegemony and its legacy in Italy and Eritrea. Recovering traces recorded in the official history – from propaganda cinema to official correspondence preserved in the archives of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Rome – together with fragments of the experiences of private individuals – drawn from conversations, literary travel accounts and diaries – Baker has put together a hybrid vision which she considers has many voices, but none that can tell the whole story on its own.

Baker’s work is situated at the intersection of documentary and myth creation, forming a series of complex visual fragments realized through film making, installation and documented re-stagings. Her practice and visual language, while based on in-depth research, is often speculative and nomadic, seldom offering a finite position on events or histories.

14 September 2013 - 13 October 2013