‘In Italian the word richiamo can be translated as either the call, or perhaps even the recall, the latter suggesting that upon hearing (or feeling) the initial call the listener experiences waves of knowing memory sweeping over like an echo.’ – Domenico de Clario
Two years ago, artist, academic and creator Domenico de Clario buried a lifetime of family possessions in a swimming pool-sized pit in Mildura. The act formed part of an art installation reflecting on the recent passing of his parents.
In 2005, as part of an installation at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, de Clario created a replica of the apartment his family had inhabited in Trieste before migrating to Australia. During the exhibition, he and his parents, family and friends inhabited the apartment, living, cooking and telling stories for viewers.
Now, Domenico de Clario and Italian artist Laura Cionci are embarking on a new, grand project, co-curating a multidisciplinary art project that is taking place in Carlton this April.
The project, reciproco/RECIPROCAL, which I have interned on for the past three months, is being produced by cultural commentator, curator and artist Lella Cariddi. The project brings together ten internationally renowned Italo-Australian and Italian artists to collaborate on the creation of new works.
The works will be performed, installed, showcased, discussed and screened across cultural venues in Carlton, including Co.As.It/Museo Italiano, La Mama Theatre, Brunetti Café, Readings Bookshop and the Melbourne General Cemetery.
“reciproco/RECIPROCAL aims to expose a number of subtleties that may be missed when considering the many cultural exchanges that have taken place between Australians and migrant Italians,” de Clario says.
“Australian-Italians have evolved their own brand of a kind of creole culture and language, unrecognisable to Italians from Italy. reciproco/RECIPROCAL attempts to address such incongruities and manifest them as art collaborations, located in the very cultural shrines that still contain a nostalgic Italianiety.”
The Italo-Australian artists have been paired with the Italian artists in order to inform each other through the intermingling of their stories. The art produced will then reflect upon their own relationships with cultural identity, whether formed in Europe or in Australian suburbs and towns.
The participating Italo-Australian artists are Eugene Carchesio, Angela Cavalieri, Wilma Tabacco, Damiano Bertoli, and Luana Perilli, Rocco Dubbini, and Angelo Bellobono and Alessandro Cannistra are the Italian artists (plus de Clario and Cionci).
reciproco/RECIPROCAL launched at the Co.As.It/Museo Italiano on 11 April, officially opened by Virginia Trioli. Site-specific viewings started at the Melbourne General Cemetery at 4 pm and finished at La Mama at 8.30 pm.
The project’s symposium, Reciprocity in Italian/Australian Cultural Exchanges, will take place at the Co.As.It/Museo Italiano from 9.30 am on Saturday 13 April, and will feature speakers Gabriella Coslovich, Marco Fedi, Damiano Bertoli, Stefano de Pieri, Paola Balla, Elizabeth Presa, Gregory Day and Marisa Fazio. For tickets to the official launch or the symposium, email Paolo@coasit.com.au.
A special performance, songs for albert, is also taking place at the La Mama Theatre as part of the project, running from 11–13 April. Tickets can be purchased from La Mama’s website.
Artist talks, performances and exhibitions will continue from 11 April until 2 May across the rest of the participating venues, free to the public with no bookings required.
All of the iconic spaces chosen for reciproco/RECIPROCAL have rich social histories dating back to the postwar narrative, operating as social hubs for academics, researchers, writers, artists, musicians and students. Over the years, Carlton has become a place where Italo-Australians celebrate their heritage.
“As a migrant who arrived here in the 1950s, it's fulfilling for me to be able to facilitate such dialogues and expressions,” De Clario says.
Producer Cariddi is also an Italian migrant who arrived in Australia from Italy in 1955 via Princes Pier in Port Melbourne. Three years ago, she was invited by Multicultural Arts Victoria to curate What happened at the pier?, a project established to document the experiences of people who arrived at Princes Pier in postwar years to forge a new life in Australia.
reciproco/RECIPROCAL explores immigration, artistic practice, cultural identity, and how these concepts are so often informed by one another. It is a project that looks both outward and to our own backyard: to Italian artists and to Australian artists living as second-generation Italians, with their own familial connections and evolving creative lives.
As a student finishing a Masters of Global Media Communications, what sparked my interest in this work is how it relates to the pervasive connection that exists between culture, migration and the arts.
The arts strongly inform our cultural connections and our roots. This project expresses the need to seek self and cultural expression through artistic language, to speak of our detachment or our closeness, and our search for meaning in a new or changing world.
I find this project engages not only the Italian community, but also young people like myself who have grown up wandering in and out of the shops on Lygon Street with a desire to understand more deeply the strong heritage of migration in Carlton − younger people who want these stories to be preserved, shared and passed on for future generations.
reciproco/RECIPROCAL will run from 11 April until 2 May across Carlton.
Caitlin Cassidy is a Masters student in Global Media and a freelance writer. She works at Readings.