Monday, February 23, 2015

Thomas, Italy - 1945

In the summer of 2014 I traveled to Italy for the first time.  During this time I followed part of my father's footsteps from his tour during World War II.  Earlier, I researched his regiment's path northward and found that he was part of the movement that liberated the city of Volterra.  He began in Naples and moved north all the way to Milan where in the end he guarded the street where Mussolini hung.

In homage I created copies of a contraband photo of my father taken on the front lines, making the copy slightly larger, a degree from the original.  This image was considered illegal contraband at the time so seeing it as a child was always a source of mystery and intrigue.  When removing the photo (made directly from the negative and edge-torn from a contact sheet) from the old family photo album I found writing on the back, written by my father at a much later date, so as not to forget the event of the photo.  On the back of my copies I forged the same words in my father's then hand writing.  I placed 5 of the 6 copies at various landmarks across northern Italy, in a similar way one places icons on sacred ground in memorium.  I used the sixth photo to show the people I met during the intervention, as I explained my father's experience in Italy from 1943 to 1945.  I also recorded the sounds around me during the search for the various sites.

Photo Documentation of Thomas, Italy - 1945, 2014

Photo Documentation of Thomas, Italy - 1945, 2014

 I documented the photo copies on the tile floor at the door of our little balcony in Volterra.


Relics, chapels, land art, and stories of legends and saints are found throughout northern Italy.  During ancient times Italy was composed of various regions that often competed for land and commodity, these regions still exist today but they mostly compete for valor via horse racing and leftover pieces of saint's bodies.

After placing the first photo I waited across the street to see what would happen, nobody cared that I had been scaling the wall of the civic building.

In traveling around the countryside of Volterra I found a site where a little knoll was at the edge of a large farming field.  The site had a lone pine on it and in the distance you could see a piece of land art erected at the top of a hill in the field.  The artist is Mauro Staccioli.

San Galgano was especially full of mystique, legend, and relics.  It is the sacred place of peace from war and whose namesake is the saint of peace.  A good place for my father's homage photo.

Later when we returned to Volterra we happened upon this archway that served as a doorway to this ancient walled city.  As we rounded the outer wall we saw commemorative markers, plaques, reliefs, and even a little park explaining that "Through this portal the Allied Soldiers entered Volterra."  My father had walked through there in 1944.

One relief had metal photo images and names of the fallen soldiers and partisans from Volterra.  Both Italian Fascists and Allies like brothers together on the same plaque.  My father often mentioned the Italian partisans in his memories of Italy.

The park was especially nice at night.

My father always referred to the great wine in Italy and years later when we would eat at an Italian restaurant he would speak a few words of Italian to the owner.  It was the only time he ever spoke Italian.

Italy ...

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1 comment:

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