April 28 - May 30, 2021 Rachel Anzalone Famiglia Multimedia Installation The Case Galleries and Media Wall - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - I could
April 28 – May 30, 2021
The Case Galleries and Media Wall
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I could hear the muffled voice on the other end of the line, as my dad sat listening while holding the phone to his ear. Come lo dici?* Food store? He asked, followed by an answer.
I wondered what my uncle thought on the other line. Did he notice my dad’s hesitation as he tried to remember words or sometimes sentences? This was the first language he spoke and the only language in which his parents could understand him. Their conversation continued, only to be interrupted by a few more inconsistencies.
Parking lot? – Parcheggio.
City block? – Intero quartiere.
Weekend? – Fine settimana.
for each phone call,
he was away.
*English translation: “How do you say that?”
The grape vines in the backyard entwined around my aunt and uncle’s pergola. Their small brick house was the setting for many birthday parties or celebrations. During our parties, in broken english, my uncle updated us on the condition of his cherished fruit. They seemed to be always healthy and ready to be picked. My cousins, brother, and I had little interest in the fruit, and instead we focused our attention on climbing the wooden structure, (when no one was around of course). As I ascended, I carefully and
slowly maneuvered my foot, trying to avoid the rich vines, as my laughing cousin swung upside down.
The interior of their house never changed. Furniture was moved around for the time being, and then placed on the indented carpet, an indication or map of where it previously sat. On the walls in the hallway, hung photographs of my relatives, of people whom I have not met. Those frames were never touched or rearranged.
I stood in line waiting to use the bathroom. To my right was a familiar end table covered by a yellowing laced dollie, (the only evidence of time) and a photograph of my Aunt Gina. She was young and smiling. My eyes always wandered to the lines on her cheek that appeared when she laughed.
Everytime I walked along the same narrow hallway of framed photographs, the pictures became a motion picture, a set of slides clicking and mending together as I passed. They kept transitioning to the next face or the next preserved memory. The film continued until I entered the kitchen and exited out the back door, which led to the pergola.
In the bedroom closet of my parent’s house is a case, sealed and protected from the environment. Beside the photographs and documents is a small black prayer book which belonged to my grandmother. This artifact, (other than my grandfather’s mandolin which sat beside the case) is the only physical object my dad has of his mother. I have never met nor do I know much about her. Inside the fragile book there are hints of her. I can see where she folded the corners at certain prayers. There are fragments of pressed flowers tucked inside, near the spine, causing the paper to stain. She is there, but not here.
Famiglia / Family, is a series of work that responds to the notion of permanency, language, and family. I have translated my grandmother’s prayer book from Italian to English, rephrasing, deleting, and combining new sentences into poetry. The constructed poems are represented through paintings, collage, and assemblage. Memories become stories, which are layered above one another, blocking and contrasting images. This action is a means of recalling or learning about my history through faded recollections. The color grey is placed in between white and black, colors of invisibility and clarity. The memories of my family are the grey.
Rachel Anzalone (she/her) was born in Inwood, NY, and raised in Manahawkin, NJ. She obtained a BFA degree from Stockton University in 2014 and an MFA degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2019. Anzalone’s practice is a visual archive that captures specific relationships to placement, family, and the uncertainty of memory. Through conversation with relatives and translating family books and documents from Italian to English, Anzalone wonders about distance and location based on the belief of what defines home. A repetitive task of layering transparent images through painting, drawing, and collage becomes an act of what she recalled from her past. Those layers are memories that will continue to fade through time. Rachel Anzalone currently resides in K’jipuktuk, (Halifax) NS.
April 28 (Wednesday) - May 30 (Sunday)
The Case Galleries and Media Wall