Helen Keller: Alessandra Caccia
by Alessandro Trabucco
A silent and dark world, a life immersed in darkness, with neither sounds nor images.
The little Helen Keller, born in 1880 in Alabama, subsequent to a serious disease found herself, when only 19 months old, suddenly with neither of the two senses, hearing and eyesight. She was forced, from her earliest age, to invent her own alternative method to communicate with the outside world, made of conventional signs and gestures, through which to keep alive a dialogue with it.
The support of a lady tutor, Anne Sullivan, she also partially blind, allowed her to make extraordinary progress, such a lot to be able to learn five languages in braille and to attend a regular college.
Alessandra Caccia, in her video of year 2010 devoted to the story of Helen Keller and proposed in this section LIGHT, examines right this close human relationship between the deaf and blind little girl and her teacher and tutor (screenplay of the universally renowned film “The Miracle Worker”) and performs it in a few essential gestures, done by the two protagonists through the contact of their hands, that replace the language of speech and become the only bearer of sensations and emotions.
A semitransparent veil acts as a gentle filter and does not allow us to clearly look at the two feminine figures who converse through their fingers. Thanks to them, little Helen caresses Anne’s face, touches the bark of a tree, begins to understand the world, to feel it inwardly and to understand its shapes and, perhaps, colours.
The artist is struck by this extraordinary vital strength and by the determination of the two women, she interprets them as a supreme symbol of the inner force that beats the difficulties, annihilates the despondency and defeats the fear, allowing to prime a sort of self-recovery from diseases and their consequences.
Alessandra Caccia dwells especially on the visual representation of the darkness and auditory of the silence, on the contrasts between total obscurity (blindness) and intense luminosity (glance), absence of noises (deafness) and short soft sounds (listening). The eyes of the little girl feel the warmth and thus she can perceive the sunshine, her ears exceed the barriers of the silent and she can eventually hear the chirping of birds and the vibrations of the nature.
Therefore the artist transposes this story in a poetic form and with the language of videoart, as a wonderful journey of rebirth, towards the inexhaustible light of life and truth.
Â«We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond the senses. Â»
(Helen Keller, The five-sensed world, 1910)
Stills from the video Helen Keller by Alessandra Caccia