Francesca Scelfo

Giuseppina. Stranger to my places,

2020 - 2022 , SICILY (ITALY)

Contributions: Atman Journal

Somos nuestra memoria, somos ese quimérico museo de formas inconstantes, ese montón de espejos rotos

At Giuseppina’s every mirroring surface is covered. She is gradually becoming alien to herself. Alzheimer’s creates a false perception of one’s image.

Giuseppina is 90 years old, she has two daughters: Maria and Mimma and 4 nieces Giuseppe, Erica, Ilenia and Ludovica. Her husband died more than 10 years ago because of cancer disease. She lives in a small medieval village in Sicily called Petralia Sottana with no more than 3000 inhabitants.

This misperception causes the incurrence of a sort of senile dementia, the mirrored image looks therefore real and it hurts.
Giuseppina’s archaic memory crumbles into her present, generating a continuous feeling of fear. Control becomes hard under those circumstances. This is why she develops a maniac attachment to objects: clothes may thus be humans, and also photos or the television. She could talk to them for minutes and think about them as real.

I spent some time with Giuseppina and her family, and I found out there is a common ground behind memory, the safe space that makes her catch a sense of family, whether unconscious. I witnessed this space while looking at the interactions Giuseppina has with her daughters and nieces. They help her building a strong collective memory, although it is not the same as it was.