work     biography     essays & press     contact

COUSCOUS



2020 – Media:

An 8 mm film transferred into digital, recording of voice over, 6:17 minutes.


30 original prints on Hahnemühle paper 350 gr. matte. 11 x 8.2 inches. On each of the prints the artist’s initials are inscribed with clear oil stick.

9 original prints on 100% natural wool felt 17.5 x 25.5 x 1 inches, 17.5 x 17.5 x 1 inches, 25.5 x 17.5 x 1 inches.






Dealing with my own history and the cultural and geographic legacy of Tripoli Libya, and Rome Italy, this work stems from my family’s story.

Oreste, my father, was born in Tripoli in 1939. His maternal side of the family had settled there from Sicily during the Italian fascist colonization, while his father’s family had arrived in Libya from Malta in the ‘700, during the Ottoman Empire.

In 1969 right after Muammar al-Gaddafi’s coup, all the Europeans living there had to flee the country and were banned from returning to it.

Video
On the right side of a split screen appears an assembly of family footage shot in Tripoli in the early ‘60s, over which my father’s voice explains his couscous recipe in Italian. While he talks about the recipe, an English text appears on the left side of the screen. This text is not the translation into English of my father’s recipe, but rather a sort of emotional decoding of it. Using an imaginary dictionary, I translate his culinary love into a different conversation.
The Italian voice over serves as a sort of musical score in order to convey passion. It might as well be in Arabic or any other language.

“The film Couscous is structured through multiple oppositions—dual screens, contrasting colors, moving images and texts, Italian and English, past and present—that come together in the big opposition of reticence (of the artist's father) and confession (of the artist). And, of course, this big opposition resolves in turn into a unity: loss, and loss.
I admire how Marina Sagona brings this off with such clarity and balance, and absence of ostentation, while evoking an emotion that seems as tantalizingly present as the aroma of the food.”


Stuart Klawans
Film critic


Prints
The images printed on felt are details of photos from my family’s archive taken in Libya in the early ‘60s: an oasis, modern buildings, Tripoli’s harbor, the desert, etc. The use of felt, with its soft shaggy texture and speckles of green from grass trapped in the wool, gives back the idea of a place wrapped up in the blurry nature of memories. The texture adds to the images the reminescence of nostalgia for the golden age of an unriveld Arcadia.