Variazioni su M.
Martina Melilli & Botafuego
Variazioni su M. is produced thanks to the support of Lucia Award 2021.
Leo Ferlan was born in 1928 in Idra, a town formerly in the province of Gorizia, now in Slovenia. A botanist, he was sent to Algeria in 1952 for a geo-cartographic campaign after working in Montpellier for three years. Suddenly, a friend of friends burst into his life: Miriam Colautti wrote to Leo to ask him how to find work in Algiers. Thus began a close correspondence between the two, which continued after Leo’s return to Italy, in the summer of 1954, when he settled in Bergamo. The following year, in September, they got married and she finally joined him. However, Leo died a few years later, in 1961. Miriam decided to donate Leo’s letters to the National Diary Archive of Pieve Santo Stefano, so they have reached us today. However, she decided to burn hers, leaving no trace of them. Variations on M. works on the absence of Miriam’s words, on the potential of this empty space. Martina Melilli and Botafuego asked Renato Rinaldi to give Leo a voice, and they invited a series of people – different in age, background, experience and sexuality – to speculate, imagine and interpret the missing half of this epistolary exchange: Miriam’s letters. Each time, these people were invited to imagine themselves in Miriam’s situation, drawing on their own experiences and biographical trajectory. The exchange between Leo and Miriam is rendered through the medium that has now taken the place of the letter: the voice message.
Martina Melilli (1987) is an Italian multidisciplinary artist, director and cultural practitioner. Her work is research oriented and inspired by an anthropological and documentary approach, often in dialogue with archival practices. It explores socio-political issues tackling the notions of memory, history, individual and collective imageries and imagination. Her work has been exhibited in venues such as Palazzo Strozzi (Florence), PAC (Milan), MART (Rovereto). She won the 2017 edition of Artevisione with the film MUM, I’M SORRY, later acquired by the Museo del Novecento, Milan. Her first creative documentary, My home, in Libya, was produced by Stefilm International, ZDF/ARTE, RAI Cinema, with the support of the Italian National Film Fund – which recognized it as being of cultural interest – and the Solinas development scholarship. The film had its world premiere at Locarno Film Festival in 2018, and then travelled to festivals including Chicago IFF and DOK Leipzig, winning prizes and special mentions. Between 2019 and 2020, Melilli collaborated with Playboy Italia magazine, for which she created and curates the column CORPO A CORPO | Bodily Conversations. In 2020, she was shortlisted for the Francesco Fabbri Foundation emerging art prize, receiving the jury’s special mention for the work Un abbraccio. In 2022, Melilli was selected for Berlinale Talents.
Botafuego is a bilingual sound storytelling workshop, founded by Carolina Valencia Caicedo and Riccardo Giacconi. They produce and promote radio works and podcasts, in Italian and Spanish. They collaborate with RAI Radio 3’s Tre Soldi and Caracol Radio (Colombia). Their audio-documentary Catarsis was shortlisted for the 2021 HearSay Award. They lead educational projects and audio storytelling workshops between Italy and Colombia.