Photography “Paterfamilias”: the unsafe refuge evoked by Ada Marino

“Paterfamilias”: the unsafe refuge evoked by Ada Marino

Giorgia Massari
Ada Marino |

Visual artist Ada Marino, Italian but based in Wales, works by combining installation and photography, seeking a visual transposition of traumas buried in the past. Her works, often in black and white, conceal an agony, suffering and sense of helplessness that manifest themselves in a form of cynical surrealism. The images that Ada Marino evokes belong to her personal experience and, more generally, those of women, focusing on gender issues.
The project “Paterfamilias” is autobiographical and therefore particularly charged with pathos. The artist investigates the phenomenon of patriarchy circumscribed to the domestic sphere, drawing from her past family traumas. In fact, Ada Marino dedicates the project to her grandmother, abused and denigrated by an authoritarian husband.

To my grandmother who was abused and denigrated by an authoritarian husband. To her that when she was not beaten was impregnated, as sign of ‘love’ and punishment and often beaten while she was expecting, as sign of correction and discipline.” wrote Ada.

Ada Marino |
Selected photograph for Liquida photofestival

“Paterfamilias” visually describes a suffocating and toxic environment. A place where home is no longer a safe haven but the scene of violence and denigration. A place where man dominates every choice and marks time. Ada Marino, although not making the violence explicit through images, is able to evoke it with specific gestures, positions or behaviors. A man’s hand grips a woman’s hair; in another shot he forcefully holds a bird, preventing it from breathing. Broken dishes are stowed a sideboard, milk overflows from a glass. The man, shielded by a newspaper, pierces it with his arm in order to eat. Still two legs are seen floating in the air in a bathroom, a woman is hanging, evoking suicide. Fragments of life that every woman is able to perceive as dangerous. Symbols that in their apparent simplicity carry with them the sense of oppression that continues to linger to this day, highlighting how today’s society itself fails to eradicate patriarchy, despite many words and hard efforts.

Ada Marino is able to convey disquiet where there might not be any, as in the case of overflowing milk, managing to strike at those universally dramatic gestures. Marino’s photographs conceptualize the effect of repulsion/attraction, reevaluating the very concept of ugliness.

Ada Marino’s work is featured in the selection of the Liquida Photofestival in Turin 2023.

Written by Giorgia Massari
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