“Notes from a return trip”

“My journey has begun years ago, in the Warao world.

The Warao are primitive people of Amazonia who live in huts built on piles and enjoy the gifts of the river and the forest. They move almost exclusively by narrow and long canoes carved in a tree trunk and descend along the Orinoco Delta with an ease that deceived me.

I was about twenty. A canoe was on the bank, half in water and half on land, near a small group of Warao, who looked at me in a serious way. I came closer. With gestures, I asked if I could borrow it. The little ones laughed, the old man looked at them sternly and they stopped laughing. Then the old man looked at the young couple behind him and then looked at me. He spoke to me without saying a word, he told me not to be fooled.

But nothing. I was deaf.

I pushed the canoe into the river, struggled up and, without even being able to leave, I ended up in the water. I tried a clumsy attempt to turn over the canoe and then another and then I returned to the ground disappointed.

I didn’t have the courage to look at all of them, but I heard the children’s laughter again. I turned around, the old man and the young couple looked at me. In silence. I hoped they would scold me or that they were angry with me. It wasn’t so: I was deaf, but I could understand their unsaid words.

They felt sorry for me, for my soul.

Years later I spent the days doing a job for which I had fought and invested all my energy and that instead had become useless and meaningless to me. I saw people around me who didn’t recognize me and I didn’t recognize them either.

But I knew how to draw. And so I drew. I used to draw everything. I used to draw continuously. And then I threw my drawings away.

One day when I drew without thinking, a strange, stylized head made of many curves and without eyes came to life on the sheet.

It was an ancient face, simple, true, primitive.

The face stared at me with the eyes it didn’t have. And it told me many things, first of all to start a journey back to the origins as soon as possible.

But I was always deaf, in fact over the years I had become deafer and deafer. And I forgot it.

Or so I believed.

When I started creating sculptures I did it out of necessity, creative urgency and not by choice. And when I felt that the others didn’t understand me, I pretended nothing and pulled straight.

I told myself that if they didn’t understand, then that was the right way to go. I still didn’t recognize them.

Then one day all this was too much for me and I just felt like screaming.

So I span around, ready to react.

And then I saw the Warao children laughing at me again. I had the instinct to drive them away as bad thoughts.

But then I saw the face of the old man and the young couple again. And they still tried to talk to me without words and so I understood that over the years they had never stopped looking for me. And the old man stood up and came towards me. He hugged me and offered me a gift.

I received it on my knees and I kept it in my hands.

Then the old man sat down again. I turned around and walked.

And when I stopped, I had my first Primitive in my hands.

And so I finally realized that I was no longer deaf.

I could feel my soul.”

Giuseppe Maiorana