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This Land of Stones and Stories

In October 2022, I spent a week in Collemachia, Italy, as part of a Group Residency organised by The Museum of Loss and Renewal (Tracy Mackenna & Edwin Janssen) and The Walking Library (Misha Myers and Dee Heddon).  Collemacchia is situated in Italy’s Molise region where inhabitants are attempting to reinvigorate their community in the face of significant environmental and cultural change.

I began the residency with the loose plan of making a collage or assemblage but found that, over the course of the week, the work I was doing was about listening. It was about listening to the people who belonged to that place talk about their experiences of it, over time (e.g. Tracy’s own childhood memories, and Luciano Bucci, curator of the Winterline museum in Venafro), but also listening to stories about bigger histories of the place (the ravages of extreme poverty and mass migration, the Second World War, the Battle of San Pietro), as well as to conversations between fellow residents about what we were reading and making then and there. I became increasingly interested in the blur between fact and fiction, and the grey area in between where memory resides. Inspired by Saidiya Hartman’s concept of Critical Fabulation, Jane Rendell’s method of site-writing, and Doreen Massey’s definition of place, I ended up composing a piece of writing in response to the things that I had heard over the week, arising from, and in honour of, Collemacchia. A ‘situated fabulation’ perhaps.  (Publication with the Museum of Loss and Renwal forthcoming.)

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