Una volta qualcuno mi disse

Bianca Maldini

2018 - Ongoing


The project explores the boundary between fantasy and reality at the origins of fairy tales and popular beliefs. During a trip to Calabria, I collected memoirs in which blood is identified as a powerful element. Its role as a practical indicator of life, history and absolute bonds makes it capable of exerting influence on free will, seasonal fertility cycles and reasons of life and death. What is today tied to childhood has, in fact, ancient roots, determined by observation and communion with nature that contemporary and scientific development has made superfluous. Recognizing power in natural elements such as water and blood in the peasant culture of southern Italy was a pragmatic action taken by these people to understand what surrounded them. Magic and those who exercised it, spells, potions and miracles are based on the ability to distinguish natural dynamics, vital and organic flows and to arrange them into a hierarchy.

The project starts as a personal search for the incredible, the irrational that determines fascination for the ancestral. It is not about the need to believe again, but rather about remembering why what was believed was believed, what dynamics led to the development of popular beliefs and where their origins lie. This undervalued historical parallel has left children with a lesson for adults. Living in a world full of answers flattens the possibility of vision and imagination. Searching for the fairy tale and the magical power in my daily life is a show of respect for the stories and cultures that are disappearing in this territory, erased by the race for modernization, during which the need for reality and concreteness risks both the loss of imagination, and the loss of the relational dynamics defined by direct involvement with one's surroundings.

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  • Once someone told me

  • of a man who lived in the mountains together
    with the souls of the dead.

  • "Living on amiable land is too easy an endeavor.
    To live together with spirits you must not fear them, or they take the place of our blood and the fear will drain us."

  • Nature knew how to give back as much as she receives and man sang to her.

  • The bells of goats opened the passage, the dialogue,
    a favorable wind that carried far-away tales:

  • Once someone told me of a girl who had come from far away, made of blood and milk.

  • In her veins an evil had begun to flow that rotted in her breast and everything that touched her died.

  • To take the evil out of her blood required someone who understood its power.
    As she cried, a voice whispered in her ear:

  • Once someone told me of a woman with the power to grant a choice to whom didn’t think they could afford one, for a life built on
    a secret act of will.
    She was called the Sorceress of the Sun.

  • "You will offer him three drops, one for every moon
    of blood that follows the tides."

  • For an eternal bond.
    For an acceptable forever.

  • A cage of gold for a bird of paradise.

  • A man sick with love one day knocked at her door.

  • She laughed. "If you die the blood lacks, the heart has nothing to do with it."
    And began to narrate:

  • Once some told me of a boy who made a forest grow.

  • When he began to die drop by drop, step by step
    he planted blood.

  • His body was emptied and immediately something grew, budded.

  • When the last drop wet the earth, his limbs melted, they became water that ran through the rocks, into the stream.

  • Once someone told me that time takes the water out of the river, and when the rivers dry up, no memory will ever reach the valley again.

  • Migration onto the seashore is the 1960s phenomenon, which saw the villagers of the Calabria mountainside begin constructing new housing complexes on the coast, with the aim of following an economic and social development that began to characterize the south as a land of seaside tourism. This abandonment of native villages, stones, mule tracks, pastures and mountains is seen by many as a pivotal moment in the process of the loss of collective memory, pagan beliefs, and a Panic spirituality that previously permeated the territory.

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