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

2012
2 channel HD projection with audio
24min
installation size variable 2.20m x 8m x 3m
wood and projection screen fabric

Lula Teclehaimanot as Lula Teclehaimanot the researcher
Giovanni Ellero as Giovanni Ellero
Maria Pia Pezzoli as Maria Pia Pezzoli
Anna Amadori as the postwoman
Kidane Gaber as Kidane Gaber discussing proverbs on the radio
Zeleke Eresso Goffe as Zeleke Eresso Goffe discussing proverbs on the radio
Merinesh Ayenew Adal as Merinesh Ayenew Adal discussing proverbs on the radio
Passersby as Passersby

scenario, direction and production design Bridget Baker
conceptualisation Bridget Baker and Elisa Del Prete
director of photography Marcello Dapporto

executive producers Chiara Galloni (Articolture) and Ivan Oliati (Articolture)

2nd camera Enrico Galli
sound recording Damiano Fontanabona
electricians Miguel Gatti and Carlos Magallanes Carrillo

editing Elisa Seravalli
sound design Giovanni Frezza
colouring Walter Cavatoi
final sound edit Adam Lieber (Schmutzfilms)

special thanks to contributors

Chiara Tinonin, Filippo Pagotto and Daniel Isherwood
Props - Delta- bo Project, MC A-Mario Cucinella Architects, GArBo (giovani architetti bologna), Franca Ricciardelli, Famiglia Sandrolini and Poste Italiane
Research - Irma Taddia, Gianni Dore, Monica Dall’Asta, Anna Maria Gentili, Giulia Barrera, Stefania Ruggeri archivist at Archivio Storico Diplomatico – Ministero Degli Affari Esteri in Rome, Erminia Dell’Oro, Chiara Volpato, Maria Coletti and Dorothee Kreutzfeldt
Logistics - Simona Brighetti and Francesco Volta (Settore Cultura Comune di Bologna), Inti Bertocchi (U.I. Innovazione e Sviluppo Politiche Abitative Comune di Bologna), Piergiacomo Braga, Elisa Garbo (ACER Bologna)
Translation – Zeleke Eresso Goffe
Ellero Archive – Stefano Pezzoli, Giovanni Ellero, Ferdinando Briamonte and archivists at Dipartimento di Discipline Storiche, Antropologiche e Geografiche Università degli Studi di Bologna

Produced by Nosadella.due and Official BB Projects in association with Articolture thanks to the support of MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna. The original film was shot on high definition video at “Villaggio Bandiera”, via Giovanni Paolo Martini 10, Bologna.
Realized during a residency programme at Nosadella.due Independent Residency for Public Art in Bologna - July 2012.

The Remains of the Father – Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance) underpins BB’s stylistic approach, that of the personal spectator as essayist. For The Remains BB 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.

The filmic pendulum swings stylistically between 1936 to 1941, and now. Through the discovery by an Eritrean researcher, Lula Teclehaimanot, of an 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 had worked there for the “Ministry of Italian Africa”.

Their suitcase-sized archive was first discovered in 1999 in an attic in Bologna after Pezzoli’s death, long after Ellero’s death at sea on the way to Durban as a PoW. It contained documents gathered for purposes of colonial power and testifies of 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”.

Lula Teclehaimanot, the protagonist, plays the role of a fictionalized self - a young Eritrean researcher, tasked by the municipality of Asmara’s department of Public Works to translate from Amharic into Tigryna: A contribution to the birth of the colonial style, an unpublished manuscript promoting the rationale of a modernist Ethiopian architectural vernacular, written by Ellero in the late 1930s.

The room in which Lula researches is set within a derelict semi-detached house in Bologna built for retired high ranking officers during the fascist era called “Villaggio Bandiera”, it is also the imagined colonial office of Giovanni Ellero. This room frames the portrait essay in which a slow tracing of actions occurs, conflating the nomadic present with the posthumous “find”. Drifting 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.

Curious, Lula invites a reading of Ellero’s archive while she listens to a radio interview conducted in Italian, Tigryna and Amharic about the contemporary relevance of proverbs in Eritrean and Ethiopian societies. Her own family history becomes traceable through her reading of Ellero’s archive, when she discovers her family tree and the Teclehaimanot family seal, collated by Ellero before she was born.

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. These are leveraged 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.

Spoken languages are Tigryna, Amharic and Italian.

links
Nosadelladue residency
Roots-Routes periodical (Research on Visual Cultures) in italian
The Archive as an act of resistance download pdf (500kb) ARTEeCRITICA vol. 74/interview with BB by Anna Santomauro/2013

© images Bridget Baker