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Play It Again, Bombe


"An Elephant's Memory" is a transmedial artwork inscribed in the Cultural Memory Project "I Remember, Therefore I Am." 


The general idea is to bring back to light lost tales born out of mixed cultures, and to tell them through an intertwining of images and writings.


Such tales of cultural memory originate in the simple gestures of daily life, in the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. In a time of globalisation, they can work catharticallyas a mirror in which we can see ourselves reflected, in which we can reflect upon ourselves and re-think our own peculiar and multifacetted identity.


This project is based on the story of an Indian elephant who arrived in Italy in 1939 to become the most loved Milanese of three generations of children who have known her during their afternoons at the Public Zoo that used to be one of the city’s attractions.

It is the story of a white hunter who was meant to be an aviator, of his adventurous voyages, of his extraordinary trades, of his strange friendship with a pachyderm coming from a distant land, who used to play the organ and observed from behind her large metal wire glasses the secret folds of the human soul. It is the story of a lively Milan, open to an international dimension, of its sufferings during the bloody years of the war, of its grief, and its rebirth.


After a long research, I came up with a short novel, which was published In Italian by Mimesis in 2015 [Suonala ancora, Bombe, Milan: Mimesis 2015]. A beautiful review of the book appeared in Italian on Alphabeta2. A theatrical adaptation of the text was realised in Milan as part of the "Expo in città" programme. Such a play, directed by Paolo Bignamini and interpreted by Mario Cei, featured a video-scenography I realised with Anna Caterina Dalmasso as Ahura-Mazdā. In Spring 2016, the show was also staged in Lyon, France, at the Jean Moulin University, and was reviewed in Italian and French on Kairos Magazine


related exhibition, titled "An Elephant's Memory//Urban Wilderness" and curated by Chiara Palermo, was held at the Maison de l'International of Grenoble. It feature not only the video by Ahura-Mazdā, but also the "research drawings" I made whilst writing the Bombe play, as well as several original installations based on my novel and on its writing process.  

An Elephant's Memory

Reading and musical performance @ La Maison de l'International (with Marta Nijhuis and Le Jacobin) 2016 Photo © Miikkael Kukkula