Poetic Action, curated by Valeria Federici
Zoom opening: October 3, 2020, 3 PM.

Poetic Action is inspired by the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum and its relation to the way in which two women’s passions and actions intersected at a particular moment in history. These two women, Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva/Anita Garibaldi and Elizabeth Barrett Browning never met, they possessed highly different resources within them to employ for a shared cause, the Risorgimento - that unfolded in a place where neither of them grew up.

October 3, 2020

"When nations roar

Like lions, who shall tame them...?"

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Casa Guidi Windows, p. 46.

Garibaldi Panorama, scene of Ana Maria/Anita Garibaldi's death

The exhibition is supported by Virtual Humanities Lab of the Department of Italian Studies, Brown University

Shadow Play by me and sewn text above doorways in museum by Alyssa Casey.

For Shadow Play, I have combined a series of images with fragments of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem on the Risorgimento, Casa Guidi Windows; I selected text to reflect both the particular situation of the poet as well as political processes that I feel speak to my own time. 

In 1846, at 40, Elizabeth Barrett (considered a housebound invalid) secretly marries Robert Browning and elopes from family home in London with her maid and dog. Via Pisa, the couple settles in Florence where she writes Casa Guidi Windows.

"...by their individual heat,

Like a new bee-swarm leaving the old hive,"

E.B.B., Casa Guidi Windows, p. 28

"How they lived! and boiled

And bubbled in the cauldron of the street!"

E.B.B., p. 92

Exhibition room next to Meucci room (left) and Garibaldi room (right) that also functions as a school room for Italian language and opera lessons.

The scene in The Garibaldi Panorama is entirely different than the one Elizabeth Barrett Browning Browning imagines in her poem (listen to zoom opening discussion).

Alyssa Casey's work relates to the memory of Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva, better known as Anita Garibaldi, the crucial role she played in her husband’s revolutionary work, and how her memory has been appropriated over time. Inspired by a chance encounter with a graffiti of "Mazzini" next to the front door of a house in Montemerano, Tuscany, Mazzini's driving principle of thought to action, and Garibaldi's laconic telegram of "Obbedisco" ("I obey"), Alyssa's contribution consists of single words, assuming Anita's voice and describing her recorded actions, posted next to four doorways of the Garibaldi house, as though the viewer were privileged to a clandestine epistolary effort to communicate with Giuseppe.

The four pieces by Alyssa Casey each consist of a cotton gauze backing bearing a single cotton gauze word. Soaked in ink, each word is sewn onto the backing in a script reminiscent of the calligraphy of a contemporary handwritten letter transcribed from Anita's words, using linen thread from Alyssa's Italian emigrant great-grandmother.

Journey of Anita's body reaching the Janiculum - first, second and fourth videos on the list

Alyssa Casey: In contrast to the singular words found throughout the house directly related to Anita's experience, the viewer will also encounter footage of the 1932 fascist ceremonies of transporting Anita's remains from Genoa to Rome and the unveiling of Anita's monumental statue to house her remains in Trastevere, creating a counter-weight of the eventual appropriation, de-materialization, and symbolization of her very body.

Harvest Moon Festival
October 4, 2020

Saul Porter (former intern at Garibaldi Meuci Museum) on my picnic blanket with placemats of all of my 12 images for Shadow Play. These placemats were supposed to have been part of my hosting picnics at the museum as part of Poetic Action - but this is not possible due to Covid-19.