Bridget Baker

Bridget Baker: The Remains of the Father – Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance)
MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna
28th October 2012 – 6th January 2013

As part of the her first personal show in Italy, promoted by MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna from 28th October 2012 to 6th January 2013 in the exhibition spaces of the Permanent Collection, the South African artist, Bridget Baker presents the first preview of the two-channel video work entitled The Remains of the Father – Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance) (2012, 24″).
Influenced by her biography as a white South African living there during and after Apartheid, Bridget Baker focuses her investigation on subtle dynamics of power and domination between peoples, questioning the legitimacy of official historical reconstruction by calling the codes of their interpretation into question.
The Remains of the Father – Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance) , from which the exhibition curated by Elisa Del Prete takes its name, represents the first part in a trilogy in which the artist undertakes a reflective and imaginative journey through a subject that has still been not received enough investigation, such as the Italian colonial history in Eritrea during the Fascist regime.
The work is the result of a residence programme undertaken by Bridget Baker in Bologna during the course of 2012 on the invitation of Nosadella.due – Independent Residency for Public Art.
During this period the artist developed her project based through various explorations of Italy”s archives and libraries, meetings with historians, cinema experts, psychologists, sociologists, architects and exponents of eritrean community in Italy. Recovering traces recorded in the official history – from propaganda cinema to the official correspondence preserved in the archives of the Foreign Affairs Ministry – together with fragments of the experiences of private individuals – drawn from conversations, literary travel accounts and diaries – the artist has put together a hybrid and discontinuous vision which she considers has “Many voices, but none that could tell the whole story together”.
With the work presented at MAMbo, Baker reveals the complexity of the historic reconstruction, choosing to bring out “missing” memory that always underlies what is officially transmitted. She considers the case of a Bolognese couple Giovanni Ellero and Maria Pia Pezzoli who lived in Italian Eastern Africa during Ellero’s employment as a clerk at the Ministry of Italian Africa between 1936 and 1941. Their personal archives – now conserved at the Department of History, Anthropology オンライン カジノ and Geography at the University of Bologna and in the Archiginnasio Civic LIbrary – offer significant inroads into historical, anthropological and linguistic research at the time of the Italian African project.
The extraordinary wealth of the materials collected – letters, seals, maps, handwritten notebooks, typed documents, drawings, photographs – and the complexity of the process with which they have been stratified over the years – suggested to the artist the idea of a visual narrative in which elements of fiction blend with traces of a real but forgotten history.
Allowing to experience the threshold of reality and imagination, document and interpretation,
the work questions the observer’s gaze concerning the role of imaginative knowledge in the
perception of facts.
The film is set almost entirely within a fictional reconstruction of Giovanni Ellero”s office. The narrative traces the daily action of the protagonist, a young Eritrean researcher consigned to translate from Amharic into Tigrinya an The gaming specialist also required the chance to announce the launch of the exclusive slot machine game title for his or her partners Unibet. unpublished manuscript written by Giovanni Ellero between 1939 and 1940 titled A contribution to the birth of the colonial style. This text proposes a critical interpretation of the government’s programme of urban and architectural development in the colonial territories, and the proposal for a non-ideological approach for the definition of a different programmatic language open to dialogue with the local architectural culture.
The metaphor of a process of cultural translation which was necessary then as now becomes a pretext to question different possibilities in the course of history.
What would have happened if the calls for a different vision of colonial architecture described in this text by Ellery had been taken into consideration? An important approach in Bridget Baker’s work lies in offering alternate possibilities regarding established reality, in questioning the point of view as to how facts are described, in stimulating everybody’s responsibility to acquire a greater awareness of our past and our present.
Bridget Baker always pays close attention to the formal aspects of her work; every detail is examined carefully and realised by her in line with a scenographic study accompanying her video work which is filmed in digital and analogue media. Thus, in The Remains of the Father – Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance), Baker recalls a sort of “neo-naturalist” and hybrid attitude that permeates, through its various languages within contemporary African art.
Her stylistic language translates fragmented experiences imbued with a complex imaginative vision, creating timeless dimensions with an almost maniacal passion for redundant details.
Her voyeuristic gaze on private archives together with a constructed feminised point of view, are just some of the elements that mark out the artist’s work within the context of current European production.
Filmed entirely in Bologna in an house that is part of the architectural complex of the Fascist era “Villaggio Bandiea” through the agency of Bologna City Council – Housing Services Sector, the filmic project is realised with the collaboration of Articolture for production and post-production and of MC A-Marco Cucinella Architects, GARBO (Associazione Giovani Architetti di Bologna – Young Architects of Bologna Association) and Delta-bo Project for the scenographic and set design consultancy. In agreement with Ellero”s heirs, the Department of History, Anthropology and Geography at the University of Bologna generously loaned part of the original Ellero Archive for the shooting stage and for the show at MAMbo.
The Remains of the Father – Fragments of a Trilogy (Transhumance) will become part of the Permanent Collection of MAMbo at the end of the exhibition.
The screening of Bridget Baker’s video installation in the same Room within the museum’s Permanent Collection has in the past hosted video works by Sarah Morris, Francesco Jodice and, recently, Alison Klayman’s documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, will further contribute to marking this space as one which reflects on the experimentation with hybrid linguistic registers – between film, work of art and documentary – lying outside the usual visual canons.