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By: Lauren Mouat
It has been interesting to see the spontaneous connections that emerged between the work submitted to Open Doors over the last few months. Perhaps it’s no wonder that the coming of spring, after a winter of lockdowns, has inspired work that touches on themes of new growth, new life, new perspectives. I’m delighted that there are more Italian pieces in this issue and while I wish I could provide translations for all of these pieces (from English to Italian and Italian to English), for now, the mix of languages feels like an authentic reflection of what Open Doors is: a platform for voices with a connection to Italy.
Nature, her beauty, resiliance and also fragility is the subject of “Mother Tongue” by Curry Patricia Anton and “Deracinated” by Irene Palermo. “Silence on the Alban Ridge” by Scott & Trang Crider and “There is a Place” by Antonia Caserta dwell on quiet moments in quiet places. The short story “More than Fire” by Flavia Brunetti takes on elemental themes in a fantastical context, and what place is more fantastical and elemental than Rome itself?
Italy is often a theme as in “A Kindness” by Sara Barnett-Benelli, “Ogni Desiderio” by Giovanni Vergineo, “Bottega Bici di Firenze” by Marion Younan, and the detailed embroidery of “Piazzale Michelangelo” by Alanah Edwards. These last two visual pieces remind me that, after a year of very limited travel, we are all focused a little more on the details of the places that inspire us.
I wonder too, if our collective recent confinement is behind the focus on moments of reflection and solitude as in “Spring Street Café” by Juliana Bleh, “Totò, L’Uomo Selvaggio” by Aleeshia Maria Tozzi and the magical, almost surreal quality of nostalgia and memory of “We Come home” by Roan Shea and “Nostalgia” by Vinita Salomé.
The ways we grieve are subjects in the moving peom Il Fiato di Dio by Ludovica Cosentini and the surreal story “Giuseppina della Tempesta” by Andrea Tani.
I am also thrilled to include parallel text from the incredible memoir written in Italian by Piera Salvateci Misciatteli Bernardini, translated by her daughter in law Ellen Craig into English.
For the May issue, I interviewed author and guest judge Heather Jane Johnson, videographer Kylie Flavell and Pamela Maddaleno, artist and co-founder of a new act of artisitic resistance in Italy called “Missive Selvatiche.” While I was drawn to each of these creators for different reasons, the topics that emerged in our conversation all centered around a similar theme: taking the leap. Whether it’s to live in a foreign country or embrace the vulnerability of putting our art and ourselves out in the world, they each found self-empowerment, innovation and creativity to be the best reaction to the difficulties they faced.
It’s becoming clear that we are all “artists”, “creators” and “influencers,” (in the old fashioned sense of the term as one who affects others) and that the very definition of those terms are changing. Traditional methods of gaining recognition with a big publisher, a TV show or government funding are no longer the only option to create meaningful work and to connect to audiences of like minded people. We are self publishing, self producing, and helping each other through crowd funding. It can be a scary, unscripted, unpaved road but there is also hope, inclusivity, and empowerment in moments like this. We are finding our communities as we find our voices.
And what could be more revolutionary than that?