A site-specific installation by Anna Lise Jensen and Alyssa Casey
curated by Valeria Federici
The story of two women: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva
aka, Anita Garibaldi
The Garibaldi Meucci Museum in Staten Island is pleased to present
Poetic-Action, a site-specific installation by contemporary artists Anna Lise Jensen and Alyssa Casey.
Poetic-Action is a response to the story of two women, English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), and Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva (1821-1849)—also known as Anita Garibaldi, the life-companion of General Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Curated by Valeria Federici, this exhibition reflects on the role of women in history and on the role of history in the process of understanding and approaching past and current events in their complexity.
Poetic Action is inspired by the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum and its relation to the way in which two women’s passions and actions intersected at a particular moment in history. These two women, Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva/Anita Garibaldi and Elizabeth Barrett Browning never met, they possessed highly different resources within them to employ for a shared cause, the Risorgimento - that unfolded in a place where neither of them grew up.
While living in Florence, the English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) famously wrote a poem glorifying the Italian liberation movement of the mid-nineteenth century, the Risorgimento. In response to her poem—written over the course of three years—artist Anna Lise Jensen focuses on the poet’s own emotions: enthusiasm, disillusion, and solace through hope. Jensen’s work, titled Shadow Play, consists of a series of prints to function as a commentary on aspects of Browning’s life experience, such as living as a foreigner in Florence, her political activism, domestic tyranny, and experiencing motherhood at forty-three.
In a different vein, artist Alyssa Casey is responding to the life of Brazilian revolutionary Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva (1821-1849), also known as Anita Garibaldi. Her husband was General Giuseppe Garibaldi. From Rio Grande, on the Southern coast of Brazil, where Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva fought for many years alongside Garibaldi, she went to Italy, where she joined General Giuseppe Garibaldi to continue their battles to free people from a foreign power. She eventually died in Italy, after a failed battle in Rome, six months pregnant with their fourth child, Ana Maria was not yet 28 years old.
She is remembered and referred to by the diminutive “Anita” and her political actions and adventurous life are often obliterated by her role alongside Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Alyssa was inspired by a chance encounter with graffiti next to the front door of a house in Montemerano, Tuscany; of "Mazzini" (for the Italian politician, journalist, and activist for Italy's unification, Giuseppe Mazzini 1805-1872). Mazzini's driving principle of thought to action, combined with Garibaldi's laconic telegram of "Obbedisco" ("I obey"), moved Alyssa to create single words on cloth, assuming Anita's voice and describing her recorded actions.
These expressions are posted next to four doorways of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, home to Garibaldi after he was exiled from Italy and where he grieved Anita's death. Walking under the cloths, it as though the viewer was privileged to a clandestine epistolary effort to communicate with her partner Giuseppe.
Meet the Creators
Anna Lise combines photo based-installations with local research, interpersonal engagement and communal actions.
She holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Hunter College in New York, NY, and an MA in International Relations from University of Chicago, IL. At Hunter, Anna Lise was awarded the Hunter College Foundation Scholarship for exchange studies at the Slade, London. Among the places, her work has been exhibited are:
Edward Hopper House, New York Center for Book Arts, A.I.R. Gallery, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Bronx Arts Space and Flux Factory.
Her work has been presented at the conferences of National Women's Study Association, Open Engagement and the Alice Austen House Museum as well as discussed it on NPR's The Brian Lehrer show. To realize my projects, I have received funding from Manhattan Cultural Arts Fund, Queens Arts Council and Norddjurs Kommune (Denmark).
Alyssa is an artist impassioned by handmade paper, history, site-specific work, travel, languages, and learning. Casey has traveled the world painting murals, making public sculptures, studying with handmade paper masters, and teaching workshops.
Most recently, she was an artist in residence at the Boneca de Ataúro, Timor-leste. Casey identifies as Italian-American with roots in Lucca and Treviso.
She is currently a full-time Visual Arts teacher, engaged in creating a thought-provoking, contemporary, relevant, and accessible curriculum for high school students in Richmond, CA.
Valeria is an independent curator and a scholar whose research interests revolve around themes of sovereignty, relational space, social movements, cultural identity, information technology, and art.
Federici is a research team associate of The Garibaldi and the Risorgimento project at Brown University where she recently received her Ph.D. in Italian Studies, as well as an MA in History of Art and Architecture.
She is currently a research associate at CASVA, the Center of Advanced Study in Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Special thanks to the Virtual Humanities Lab, Department of Italian Studies at Brown University.