WORK 26 / CONTEXT / ORIGINS

ORIGINS 01/12 As part of this work I illustrate the life of my ancestors prior the beginning of my project therefore prior 2004. The result is an epic that I have been slowly executing during my spare time and mostly in the evening. The epic is partitioned in a total of 6 seasons with 3 episodes per season and 24 scenes per episode. The epic covers 4.506 years of history starting with the Bronze age all the way to our Digital Age. As I am provided with more information of the more recent history, the latest period only covers 24 years, and earlier periods cover respectively 48, 96, 192, 384 and 768 years between each of the three dates intervals they represent (Fig. Screenshot of one of the 432 illustrations I have produced to illustrate the lives of my ancestors. As it can be seen from the image the initial illustrations up to the 13th century A.D. are highly speculative. The characters are fully improvised andf fantasy-like. Nonetheless the stories always encapsulate somewhat of a drama in which a peaceful life is upset by events caused by other humans. In a way this recurrent tragedy in my illustrations not only resemble the life of my ancestors migrating from the alps after years of war but also they reflect my own life. I am strongly affected by the rise of political ideologies; no matter how innocent they seem, they truly scare me for how they could develop and what conflicts they might in fact bring about).

ORIGINS 02/12 This illustrated epic is partitioned in 6 different seasons. Each season comprises of 3 episodes and each episode is made of 24 scenes. To begin with I have assigned each season and the respective episodes to a particular period of time. The 3 episodes of the first season covers respectively 2532 B.C.–1764 B.C., 1764 B.C.– 996 B.C. and 996 B.C.– 228 B.C.. The 3 episodes of the second season covers respectively 228 B.C.– 156 A.D., 156 A.D.- 540 A.D. and 540 A.D.– 924 A.D.. The 3 episodes of the third season covers respectively 924 A.D.–1116 A.D., 1116 A.D.–1308 A.D. and 1308 A.D.-1500 A.D.. The three episodes of the fourth season covers respectively 1500 A.D.–1596 A.D., 1596 A.D.–1692 A.D. and 1692 A.D.–1788 A.D.. The 3 episodes of the fifth season covers respectively 1788 A.D.–1836 A.D., 1836 A.D.–1884 A.D. and 1884 A.D.–1932 A.D. and the 3 episodes of the sixth season cover 1932 A.D.–1956 A.D., 1956 A.D.–1980 A.D. and 1980 A.D.–2004 A.D.. In the first 3 seasons I relay on my imagination while the last 3 can be grounded on historical facts (Fig. Picture taken during the First World War of my native village in the Asiago plateau. The war not only started a diaspora of the folk living in this highland forced to migrate and work in mines both in Belgium and Australia but also it put an end to the Bavarian culture of these people obliged to get italianized ultimately by the fascist regime).

ORIGINS 03/12 For each of the 18 resulting episodes, 24 illustrations are executed on a size A4 170 grams per square meter acid free paper. A smaller panel is used to draw margins of 27 x 18 centimeters. To begin with, I draw by hand the diagonals going from each upper corner to the opposite bottom corner. In this respect I have a center and can align to these diagonals either characters or a landscape. This is a rather classic structure to the illustration, at times making it a bit dull but at times giving it a good dynamic. Every drawing usually alternates a distant view from a close up view in which the entire character or characters are shown. The characters are kept the same during an episode. With a new episode they either day or grow older. They are first draw by pencil and then retraced with 0.1 millimeter drawing pen. Later a drawing is coloured using watercolour pencils. I then use a brush wettened with water to melt the colours directly on paper. At this point I uses a scissor to cut out the contour. Lastly I scan the resulting illustratio using no filters and setting the resolution to 300 dpi (Fig. Screenshot showing me colouring an illustration. The work is usually carried out in the evening as the last thing I do before going to bed. To finish an illustration I need many evenings especially because I try to fill the illustrations with several details leaving seldom an empty background).

ORIGINS 04/12 From the age of two my family and I lived in Montreal where my father became an alcoholic. Following his abuses, I followed my mother back to Italy where she remarried to a surgeon. During this period, at age 16 I began to draw and to write, and went on a year-long exchange in the United States before enrolling at the University of Architecture in Venice. Later I studied at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, where at the age of 20 I undertook a 9,000 mile road trip to Central America. It was in trying to revise my journals for publication that I conceived the need for a digital system to document my dreams, thoughts and ideas without the need for post-editing. Since then I began moving from one media institution to another in order to develop this system. Living in an abandoned school in the Netherlands, I finally reached Sweden. On trying to get technical help at Chalmers University I grew frustrated with technology and began documenting my activities manually using an off-the-shelf camera. It was then that I began my project and it is up to then that I made an effort to reconstruct my family history via my illustrations (Fig. Last illustration of this work where I become the main character. They depict key moments of my life from my birth to the beginning of the project in 2004. Either way all the main characters of each episode can be seen as my avatars).

ORIGINS 05/12 The work resembles that of Naïve artists such as Henri Rousseau and can be seen as the storyboard of a film. It is often inspired by the film maker masters of the historic genre such as Pier Paolo Pasolini with “Medea”, Bernardo Bertolucci with “1900”, Akira Kurosawa with “Ran” and more closely Ermanno Olmi with “I Recuperanti”. The latter movie is set in my native village showing not only how the war alone destroyed it but also capitalism. The illustrations combines my well developed drawing style with a rather bizarre way of colouring especially backgrounds and people. I often choose a colour just as an attempt to vary the general palette of an illustration. I am aware I lack a good sensibility for colour matching (Fig. Picture of a drawing after I have retraced it using an illustration pen. Differently from my drawings of ideas, they display no humor but a reality constantly interrupted by violence. Also for this work I use high quality materials such as pigment based ink and acid free paper. In a way then it should outlast the thousands of drawings of ideas which have been properly archived but are doomed to fade within a few decades. In some cases I am not satisfied with certain illustrations and might at some point reproduce them. The way I create an illustration is never sketched before end but is always improvised and starts with the drawing of diagonals setting the perspective).

ORIGINS 06/12 I was born in the Asiago plateau in the Italian alps among the Cimbri, a Bavarian minority group. My mother's father side of the family left a village at the foot of the plateau in the late 19th century to grow coffee in Brazil. After many years of poverty they became owners of their own fazenda in Santa Rita do Passa Quatro. While in Europe to escape a yellow fever that had decimated many of their relatives, they got caught up in the First World War. My Brazilian great grandfather Agostino had to take part in the conflict and diserted the battle of Caporetto, the one in which the Austrians broke into Italy, by hiding in a grave. He later became a farmer and mayor of the town of Grantorto after the fascists collapse. My maternal grandfather and grandmother also started out as farmers but later began riding the wave of the Italian 1960s economic miracle turning their lands into industries and eventually going bankrupt in the 1970s retreating with a small capital back to the plateau from where both their families came from (Fig. Picture of Santa Rita where my family known as the Scudella were at last able to set up a fazenda. While they where in Europe, it was illegally sold by another Italian. It is said that with the sale money the latter, a Genoese named Martino started a successful brewery in São Paulo).

ORIGINS 07/12 My mother's mother family were also Bavarians originating from the plateau of Asiago. In the 19th century they moved to the lowland to work for an aristocrat in his Palladian looking villa built in 1717 and named after the poet Giuseppe Capparozzo who was born there. They were called Rigoni Nappa and became known as the Rigon. After the aristocrat went in disgrace they were able to buy from him the entire villa which was used in the First World War as military hospitals for soldiers wounded fighting Austrians in the alps. For the occasions the frescoes in the villas were painted with lime to keep the environment sterile and recovering soldiers were asked to build a ladder to the attic, a task they never finished so as not to go back to the front. During the Second World War the villa turned into a tank reparation yard by the Nazis with whom my grandmother has to live on a daily basis resulting in several attempts by the allies to bomb the villa (Fig. Picture of the villa prior it was sold by my relatives after my maternal grandmother gave her share away for free to her brother, the first male born. I had the luck to spend several summers in the villa and get in touch with the beautiful culture and rural atmosphere which was of great help particularly after my mother and her new husband moved to the city in the lowland to pursue his career as a doctor).

ORIGINS 08/12 In the First World War my father's father's father was a “granatiere”, an elite soldier of the Italian army who managed to save his life by deserting during the Austrian Punishing Expedition. He later abandoned his family and worked in Australia as a miner only to be interned in the Tatura concentration camp north of Melbourne after Italy entered the Second World War. While he was dying of tuberculosis in the camp, his son, my paternal grandfather was part of Operation Barbarossa in Russia and was one of the few survivors along with his cousin, the Italian neo-realist writer Mario Rigoni Stern. In 1943 my grandfather was interned in Buchenwald concentration camp and managed to survive speaking my ancestors Germanic dialect and eating potato peals in the kitchen where he was put to work (Fig. Picture of the small grave of my paternal grandfather's father in Australia. Only several decades later the Australian government could communicate my death to my paternal grandfather's mother Caterina Rigoni Stern who every day of her life went to the local train station in the alps to wait for her husband return. Given my family history I do not accept to give in to the mainstream narrative where only Jews or black people are the victims of evil Europeans or my evil folk the Cimbrians who were thought by Nazi ethnographer Bruno Schweizer to be the purest of Germans).

ORIGINS 09/12 My paternal grandmother also came like my maternal grandfather from a village below the Cimbrian plateau. Her parents had a olive garden and had a small workshop of straw hats. It is said that the family named Viero was originally called Oliviero and were exiled from Tuscany during a 13th century Guelphs and Ghibellines dispute. The family actually owned a red palace just west of the medieval city of Marostica and the palace was kept by one of the brothers of my paternal grandmother who did not wished to share the inheritance. The other brother already lived in Montreal and was the one hosting me and my family and the very one that harassed my mother and turned my father into an alcoholic (Fig. Screenshot showing me visiting the family grave of my father's mother branch of the family in the small village of San Luca above Marostica and below my native plateau. While pretty much all of my relatives can be traced back from that geographical area, I have understood that right the highlands offered a good shelter for not only migrants like my Bavarian folk but also exiled people like some parts of my family. In this respect I do not insist on claiming any belonging but I find it sad to see how local cultures have been completely stepped over by the rise of nationalisms. However being my culture mostly Germanic no such claims can be made as German are the evils).

ORIGINS 10/12 Generally the work resembles that of Naïve artists such as Henri Rousseau and can be seen as a film storyboard. Each season is also designed so that the central episode occurs in one of six continents, Antarctica excluded. For example season 4 is more set in South America with my maternal ancestors and season 6 in Australia with my paternal ancestors. The last season is predominantly set in North America where I lived as a children. The illustration then are also a way to show how mixed and colorful human roots can be, not as a spring originating from one single place but a far more complex scenario one cannot historically speculate about. In this respect rather than imposing a narrative, understanding that all historical claims are anyway bias, I use the silent media of illustration. In the imagination perhaps there is a higher truth, a truth of our ancestors residing in our subconscious, being deposited and transmitted from generation to generation. The proof of this is that since I was a small child I was prohibited to be in contact with my father and his family. Only after decades we got back together and I discovered we have so much in common, above all the will to set strong constraints of quasi self-internment for ourselves as this project can be an example of (Fig. Picture taken from the plane of my native highland and further up the site where I decided to deposit my project).

ORIGINS 11/12 Given that my ancestors came from different branches yet the narration of the illustrations is linear, I have opted to mix these various branches especially in the last 3 seasons where I pretty much know what has happened. After my mother cut me out from my father part of the family I never got to know its history. She turned a blank page and never even mentioned about her own past nor even displayed any sign of it. Due to this cleansing of my personal history, since I was a teenager I began exploring my roots making interviews at first with my grandparents from my mother side and then to their relatives. To begin with I wrote a novel about my Brazilian part of the family. I based it on my Brazilian great grandfather's diary I was able to rescue from a flood. After finishing the novel, having had no good response I did not give in and began studying the Cimbrian culture especially through the work of Agostino da Pozzo in order to write a novel about my other part of the family. Later moving to Scandinavia and then to central Europe in a way I got in touch with the legendary migration of the Cimbrians (Fig. Picture of my Brazilian great grandfather's diary with which I wrote my first historical novel. Other sources of inspirations are the many history based books I read like Herodotus and the many hundreds of BBC history radio programs I listen to).

ORIGINS 12/12 In an ideal exhibition setting the illustrations depicting my speculative and imaginative origins should be located in one of the side rooms to the main hall. Six monitors could depict the six different episodes slowly slide-showing through the illustrations. The monitors could resemble the size of an actual illustration and be activated only when a visitor is actually standing in front of it. Twelve seconds should be sufficient for the visitors to enjoy each illustration and capture the various details. The last four seconds of these twelve seconds should be used to fade in the following slide. Alternatively it could be interesting to turn the whole illustration work into an actual movie with actual characters but also sound with actual dialogs in Cimbrian and purposely made music. A total fiction then or rather a series where each episode is 48 minutes long and in this respect each illustration represent a scene of exactly two minutes (Fig. Rendering of the ideal exhibition with the wall where the six monitors reproducing respectively each of the six seasons of I illustrations is red highlighted. Additionally, books used as source of inspiration to draw the illustrations and get to know my origins could also be on site for the visitors to consult along with movies and documentaries that in one way or another come close to depict the life of my ancestors).