The exhibition is based on a true story, lived by my grandparents, by my mother and her brothers and sister, during their expatriation in Ethiopia, in full Italian colonialism, in 1938.
The story, written by my grandmother, tells of this adventurous and exciting journey, discovering a new world, full of hope for the future of Italy, but which ends dramatically with World War II.
My grandfather, zoologist-explorer, sent to Africa as an expert on African wildlife, was taken prisoner of war in 1941 for five years.
In 1942, my grandmother, with her six children, including a two-month-old baby, was forced to return to Italy as part of one of the largest humanitarian repatriation operations in history. Twenty-eight thousand Italian civilian refugees were evacuated from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia and brought back to Italy during the war. Women, children and the elderly travelled for fifty days on Red Cross boats; the «Navi Bianche», overloaded with exhausted and suffering people, coming partly from British concentration camps. Many children have died.
I was fortunate to have my grandmother Giulia until the age of thirty. I loved her very much. Her story and her letters allowed me to know her more in depth, to come into contact with the intimate and reserved part of her life hiding so many dramas. This story is about my roots.
My grandmother’s legacy can be seen in the values left behind by her example and by the love of painting to which she initiated me.
I began this kind of posthumous collaboration with her, drawing inspiration from her tales, thus prolonging the emotion that they gave me. Thus feeling her closer, my work pays tribute to her and gives continuity to her existence and mine.
A lot of material kept in the family allowed me to visualize certain pieces of past life, landscapes, documents, letters.
Martina Ludwina Caruso. Storica dell’arte