Paula Metallo | Take and Give
This is a showing in collaboration with a 12 week course of environmental studies with the association of midwestern colleges from the U.S.A. at the geological observatory gallery in Italy, titled Take and Give. At the end of the course the students have their own showing, each finishing a work that goes with a collaborative theme titled Give and Take, keeping in mind their title concept all during the rest of their 12 week excursions, whether they pertain to the geology, geography, anthropology, archeology or history of the places they will be experiencing.
Take and Give
The collision of Native Americans with the ‘other world peoples’ was like a meteoritic impact. It caused a change in the environment in a very short time that brought diseases, mining, dams and destruction of habitats. This is a unique moment in history and a pivotal time in man’s rapport with the Earth.
Geology puts us face to face with the impermanent and the enduring. The natives that lived in North America and their struggle to evolve and maintain shows that their story is a grappling with Inescapable change and resilient qualities.
We now have a clearer picture of the cause and effect circumstances slowly brought on by this hard to define word ‘progress’ that also connotes a continuous failure to protect and preserve the place where we live. I am interested in what was taken, through this causation, and symbolically ‘give it back’.
The written ordinances of Congress that were passed over time in America, in an attempt to remedy the difficulties of native Americans to adapt to their quickly changing environment, were referred to as 'making apples'. This reminds us of the Apple Noggin dolls that still today are made as a tribute to American folk art. The apple, as object, became an appropriate connection to Native American assimilation. The photographic documentation of the apple sculptures as they dry and change, or wither, is also conceptually relevant.
The research led me to Mary Shelley, daughter of the pioneering feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft. Her novel Frankenstein (1818), written in the middle of the industrial revolution, is a key moment in my quandary over the risks of overreaching and how mans efforts to improve human existence can also result in tragedy. It interests me how Mary Shelley examines the imagination's monstrous possibilities. After all, Frankenstein is a collage! And a visual metaphor for forced assimilation.
These are stitched collages.
These are people who struggled in one way or another to understand what was happening to the Indians and the environment. In particular, interesting women writers, photographers, and anthropologists understood quite well because many aspects were, as women, happening to them as well.
I employ vintage photos of protagonists of the time, superimposing the Indians that collided with them, producing a collage that metaphorically puts the Indian back in the man