This project – as yet un-named – developed out of a friendship between Barbara Esposito and Deirdre MacKenna which, over roughly five years had centred informally around their cultural practices. Conversations were pinned to a wish on each side to collaborate and develop projects together which as yet have been stifled by the funding situation; in the Regione Molise there are no funding strands for research and development and of the contracts signed by the Assessore a la Cultura for the Regione Molise to quantified proposals, many of these never receive payment. In summary, the culture sector in Regione Molise is mainly auto-financing, precarious and vulnerable, thriving upon self-financed initiatives and occasional project funding from Regional funds. Thus, the resilience of practitioners and the sector is stifled to the extent where it is incapable of building any momentum and/or entering into practice-led partnership with its peers.
As a way of resolving to continue practice, Deirdre MacKenna invited Barbara Esposito to start a dialogue about her practice and the territory she inhabits and grew up in. MacKenna’s thinking was to let ‘the project’ evolve over a durational period of time which permitted reflection, response and development at its own pace, free from any external conditions or commitments.
The texts are presented in the order of the most recent first:
4) DMK: Hi Barbara, thank you for your images and your words… I have a few questions for you now about the previous things you wrote…
See 2): when you say that it is ignored by the institutions, why do you think that is?
See 2): you mention no support for young artists, are there any supports for any other artists?
See 3): can you say a bit about why you choose paper, drawing and photography to convey your messages?
3) BE: Your last question is quite difficult to respond to. I’ve always known – as an artist – that it would arrive the moment to face this topic, so I’m thinking about a connection between Provincia di Isernia’s territory and history. Something that can be represented by using paper, drawing and photography. These are the devices I imagine could resonate with me and my artwork.
Actually, not a long time ago, I did a little research on Isernia’s roman foundations and I was very pleased with urban and architectural information that I found.
Then I met you and you showed me the image Margaret Bourke-White made in early 1944 of Isernia bombed. That image suddenly released a series of buried memories which I have of my Grandfather talking to me when I was young, and these are becoming mixed with my current identity and points of view.
Now, I think this will be the starting point of my future project with you.
2) BE: Living away from Provincia di Isernia led me to finding sources relevant to me, in Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise, in Rome, L’Aquila, Pescara and Campobasso too. In those places I met some people with whom I’ve developed and retained deep bonds, even now. On the other hand, here in Provincia di Isernia, I have found very few cultural figures to identify with. I think this is because Isernia is a young province whose economy is developed from the rural sector, and recently has started to experience the decline of its modest but important small-sized industry sector.
Contemporary art here is as good as ignored by the institutions and of the few events which occur, most happen in Campobasso, the adjacent and capital province. Despite its acknowledged cultural heritage, Isernia is completely cut off from the national cultural system and has no structure to support the development of young artists.
Nevertheless, I met some other artists here, and researchers and curators who are working to develop this situation by addressing the territory. I mean Agapito di Pilla, a filmaker very closed to me. Or Tommaso Evangelista, a young art historian. And you, also Deirdre. I’ve always admired your perseverance and attachment to Provincia di Isernia and I’m really proud to take part in your project.
1) BE: I’ve spent a few years away from Molise, moving to l’Aquila to Rome. I was studying art and I needed to detach myself from everything I was familiar with in order to experience life. Although, a couple of years ago, I figured out that the moment had arrived to come back to my roots and experiment with a new route, a new kind of life, more relationship-centred and hopefully more authentic. These are the main advantages of living in a small region such as Molise. I also came back to Provincia di Isernia in Molise because my family lives here.