etta lisa basaldella

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by carlo della corte   writer

”In pain thou shalt bring forth children”, the Old Testament maintains this and over the millennia it has proved to be true. But then, when the world was still at the dawn of civilization, the mother/child relationship established itself as one of the most tenacious and satisfying for both, until, in western society, from the Greek tragedies up to the time of Shakespeare, the sins of civilization, with incest and consequent disasters, spoilt a paradisiacal relationship which would resolve with the growing up of children and their consequent parting. Today, some western countries have zero population growth and self- sterilization is preached (the church, because of its principles, is naturally against such methods). The world is over populated and there is not enough food to go around. In short and frankly, maternity is not popular and tragically the rubbish bins are becoming laden with new-born babies.
In certain countries yet, where such alarming messages, however right they may be, do not arrive or at least do not dwell in the consciousness of the public, the primitive mother/child relationship still maintains, wherever possible, its touching and instinctive qualities.
The poetical expression of maternity, without its risk factors and possible sorrows suggests something magically primordial and this, Etta Lisa captures in her photographs, some of them really superb, taken during her many eventful and even adventurous safaris across some of the third world countries; from Guatemala to Tibet, Ecuador to India, Papua New Guinea to Mexico, Peru to Sri Lanka and from Yemen to Nepal...
It is like breaking up and peeling a primary act, taking away its additional implications with their potential for becoming reductive even though reason can be stretched and has, alas its own reasons. In its name we risk forgetting certain other reasons which today seem alien but which have nourished us for thousands of years. The atmosphere which surrounds Etta Lisa′s photographs, while allowing us to imagine a certain degradation, has an ineffable grace, the essence of which is captured before a doubt or an afterthought could cause it to disappear.
Absurd as it may seem, in today′s third world, unloved by the white races with the exception of a few missionaries and some precious layman, we see reproduced the typical pictorial scenes of our greatest tradition, the series of Marian maternities, conceived by the likes of Lippi and Giambellino, to cite two of the better known and poetic artists specialists in painting 'Madonne', who worked by commission but who were, even so, possessed with a great sense of poetic rendering.
Etta Lisa, the traveller, displays a rigorous, sharp and impassive style. A detail is enough, a hand, as in Mali, above the head of a child clinging to its mother′s sari.
It is history already; the story of yesterday, but with ramifications of truth which will spread out even into our very much contested today.     <back