ACTRESS AND AUTHOR
“Culture and creativity influence, and are influenced, by country life. I was born, and grew up, in Latronico before I went to High School. As grandchild of peasants, I know the rural world and my imagination is fed by stories, anecdotes, food and memories from my hometown.”
What do you think is the relationship between creativity and the rural world? And how does this influence your artistic practice?
Culture and creativity influence, and are influenced, by country life. I was born, and grew up, in Latronico before I went to High School. As grandchild of peasants, I know the rural world and my imaginary includes stories, anecdotes, food and memories from my hometown.
Rural Basilicata is an integral part of my cultural background. It is where I have my roots and the place which forged my character. It influenced my life with the education I received. Latronico is a town in the mountains where the time was marked by repeated rituals connected with agricultural activities, from the grape harvest, to the “Rite of the Pig” and the preparation of tinned tomatoes. Early in my career, I wrote a story on the “tomato purée,” where I outlined the role of the different people involved in its production. There were the women washing the bottles and the tomatoes and then boiling them. There were the children putting the basil into the bottles, and the men turning the tomato milling machines manually. These activities belong to a peasant and rural culture and express knowledge to preserve and pass on to future generations. Today, my mother still takes care of the vegetable garden, which we bought near to the house because she has aged. Tastes and authenticity are always enjoyed and appreciated within the family.
What do you think about the connection between agriculture and culture?
There is a strong connection between agriculture and culture. You experience this at the table daily in the relationship with the food and the earth’s products. We need the earth and the return to the “garden” or “vegetable garden” is an expression of that in this special historical moment. Knowledge, networks and social relationships are important and there is the need for some guardians to protect them. Young people are certainly essential here as well as women whose role needs to be recovered due to a lack of their presence over the centuries. In this context of precariousness, as we have experienced it in recent years, the cultural and social contribution of women has become crucial thanks to our higher flexibility and ability to adjust to changes. If I think of Basilicata, I see it as a territory full of potential but unfortunately it is unable to express it to its best, probably because it suffers from a poor infrastructure that constricts its growth.
What place, object or recipe most evokes your Lucanian childhood?
I have a memory of the barrel that my grandmother used to guard jealously in a corner of the house. During those years, water was not piped to rural houses and the barrel was the water supply which was essential for daily life. For me collecting water for my grandmother’s house was real fun. The other memory is linked to my mother’s cooking and in particular, her tagliolini soup, which was a traditional local dish much appreciated, even today. I know, on a hot day like this, it might not be so obvious, but it is truly delicious.