2012 Chasing the Disappeared

One of my most adventurous exhibitions, Chasing the Disappeared opened at Tweed River Art Gallery on Saturday 20 April and continued through til 8 September 2013.

An eight metre long drawing of repeated markings of the Tasmanian tiger are symbolically used to represent the passing of the first generation of Italian Immigrants which came to Australian in the 1950’s. To see and hearmore about the background to the work and the process of making this drawing please follow the link to a short 6 minute video http://vimeo.com/53188020

Artwork Filomena Coppola
Shot and edited by Robert Klarich
Music by Chihei Hatakeyama
Detail, Chasing the Disappeared, 108h x 800w cm, pastel on paper, 2012

Detail, Chasing the Disappeared, 108h x 800w cm, pastel on paper, 2012

Chasing the Disappeared uses the markings of the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) to further explore cultural loss. It is not until things are gone that we mourn their loss and wish for their return. The markings are symbolic of the loss of the first generation of Italians that came to Australia in the 1950’s, with their passing we lose stories, dialects, recipes and memories that marked the early crossings to Australia. I am reflecting on the passing of the first wave of immigrants and the losses; the genealogical dis/connection to Italy; the local dialects of the1950’s that migrated with them and the dis/connection to the Catholic faith. As the first generation born of Italian immigrants we wanted to assimilate and dilute the cultural differences, yet the second generation born in Australian is strongly claiming their Italian identity, sometimes without a direct connection to the language, culture or the country itself.

I have chosen to make the drawing eight metres in length as it is a direct reference to a rug that consisted of eight thylacine skins which is now in the collection of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The Thylacine markings are drawn vertically and repeated to create the sense of a seismic reading; a line of fossilized backbones; markers of time; journeys across continents; or sound waves which carry the silent voices and dialects. The work is drawn to look like fur thus appearing tactile and inviting to the viewer. The drawing is a direct reference to lineal time which the viewer participates in as they walk the length of the drawing. It will represent time past and time ahead; looking back on what has gone before and ahead to what is yet to come.