2013 Mother Tongue

Mother Tongue is the second project in a series of three works, which are influenced by the migration of post war Italian Immigrants to Mildura. On March 16, 2011 my uncle passed away – he was the first Coppola (of the three brothers who migrated to Australia) to be buried in Australian soil. Since this time I have thought a lot about the loss of this first generation of migrants and its cultural significance. The first work Chasing the Disappeared explores this and uses the markings of the Tasmanian Tiger to reference loss – that it is not until something is gone that we long for its return. Mother Tongue is a multimedia sound, film and drawing installation which connects directly to the moment of migration – leaving Italy, the journey and the arrival. The twenty drawings are a reconstructed map of Italy, the sound component records the alphabets of both cultures with Italian having 21 letters and English comprising 26, and the video captures the faces and evolving Italian dialects of this first generation of Italian immigrants. In the third project Alpha Sound I will make a new alphabet based on the Australian native orchid forms that I have been using in my work. The new symbolic alphabet will run along the length of one wall. On the opposite wall I will visually represent the sound wave that is made by speaking each letter. There will also be a sound component to this work which will reference the sound piece made for Mother Tongue. Mother Tongue was exhibited at the ADFA Building in Mildura as part of Palimpsest #9, curated by Helen Vivian.

Mother Tongue, 2013                                                                                                                                            20 drawings, each titled after one of the 20 regions of Italy, pastel on paper, overall 345h x 615w cm, 2013 Alphabet sound component, duration 4:43, recorded and edited by Robert Klarich and Filomena Coppola    and Documentary Film, duration 15:29,  shot and edited by Robert Klarich and Filomena Coppola

Mother Tongue Credits: Thank you to the following participants of first generation immigrants: Video – Mario Carfora, Benito Colaiacovo, Leonardo Coppola, Pellegrina Coppola, Ilario Crisera, Maria D’Orazio, Loreto Marozzi, Dora Mastrippolito, Rosario Lia, Aurora Littore, Nicolina Paolucci and Silvia Ralli. Alphabet Sound Component: Thank you to participants from first, second and third generations of Italian immigration: Mario Carfora, Anna Cirillo, Benito Colaiacovo, Leonardo Coppola, Pellegrina Coppola, Ilario Crisera, Maria D’Orazio, Loreto Marozzi, Dora Mastrippolito, Michele Pagano, Rosario Lia, Aurora Littore, Nicolina Paolucci, Silvia Ralli, Charlie D’Aloisio, Donata Carrazza, Vince Cirillo, Filomena Coppola, Maria Dimasi, Larry Fuda, Teresa Lia, Nick Mazza, Cathy Monteleone, Frank Panetta, Elisa Plany, Olivia Cirillo, Kiarna Coppola, Michael Coppola, Dante DeRosa, Luca Mammone, Massimo Mammone, Emmelia Mazza, Anthony Monteleone, Sienna Plany and Sofia Plany. Acknowledgements

RAF RAV inlineThe Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Victoria by Regional Arts Victoria.


The artist would like to thank Irymple Bocce Club, Tasco Inland, Arts Mildura and Mildura Palimpsest #9 and all the participants who generously gave their time, voices and stories. Thank you to all the supporters of this project who acknowledged the importance of documenting a small part of this migration story. And especially to Robert Klarich and his family for hours above and beyond.