THE SPAGHETTI TREE
Italian migration to the British cities of Bedford and Peterborough in the 1950s formed foreign societies whose culture the rest of the country was largely ignorant to. These communities’ desire to preserve their culture inspired Lucy Levene (1978, UK) as she encountered events and occasions they host.
Levene intentionally distances herself from the stereotypical narratives that are often associated with national communities; instead here she captures the performative aspect of the community. Incorporating repeated themes and motifs, Levene references the passage of time and nations’ history, whilst staged moments and accidental compositions translate the modern personality of this community. Absurdities and contradictions are evidenced by the manner in which the individuals consciously act in front of the camera, revealing how characters intend to display their community and family to the public. Levene’s controlled series incorporates a varying range of awkward perspectives, hard flash and dramatic shadows that reveal her presence whilst exposing the imperfections and feelings of the subjects; there is no opportunity to present an idealised portrait of Italian life here.