• Alba, 1867
• Hong Kong, 1897
• Marseille, 1900
• Valenciennes, 1918
• Buenos Aires, 1930
First of all – who is the father here? No, not him, the old man – it’s me! Under the two-year old child, the latest one of the nine children gathered around the patriarch (the nine living ones, of course, we do not count the dead), he wrote: “Papito”. Of course, he is the father of the two little girls for whom he is editing the album – the “caro papito”, as they address their delicious postcards from the college in Turin. But he is also the rebellious child, who at eight years ran away to embark at Genoa as a ship’s boy to the Far East, as far as possible from all this family. Brought home by the gendarmes, he had to face his father, mother, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law – and even his nephews older than him. Like The Elephant’s Child…
|‘Scuse me,” said the Elephant’s Child most politely, “But my father has spanked me, my mother has spanked me, not to mention my tall aunt, the Ostrich, and my tall uncle, the Giraffe, who can kick ever so hard, as well as my broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and my hairy uncle, the Baboon, and including the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, with the scalesome, flailsome tail, just up the bank, who spanks harder than any of them; and so, if it’s quite all the same to you, I don’t want to be spanked any more.”
Rudyard Kipling, Just So stories
He thus pushes back all the family by a generation. The father becomes “grandpa”, the mother “grandma”, the brothers and sisters a whole bunch of uncles and aunts.
And the brothers- and sisters-in-law? and the oppressive nephews? He simply erases them, by carefully choosing a photo of the “narrow” family. May God protect us from the kindred.
The photographer who came to account for thirty years of marriage of the old parents, gave each the place due to his/her rank: the patriarch at the center, the mother and the eldest daughter, the terrible Gigina on both sides of the group as to materialize the sharing of power between them (second-class power anyway). The boys on the two sides of the father, the heir in the center, already holding the throne in his hands, the girls aligned perpendicularly – the youngest badly breaking the symmetry of the whole.
The youngest, under threat of slaps in case he would move during the exposure time.