Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.

Baci, Piccoli Baci, Grandi Baci (Kisses, Little Kisses, Big Kisses) is a photographic and mixed-media exploration of my constrained relationship to my father who I did not meet until I was 23 years old. The project combines family photographs, poems, collected keepsakes, intervention photographs, and my own photographs from our first encounter. Through the work, I faced my own suppressed memories in order to unfold complex emotions and explore themes of absence, childhood, fatherlessness, and difficult family dynamics. I tackled feelings of meeting someone who is biologically a part of me, but who I know nothing about.


In western society, we strive for a perfect family image, while subconsciously and consciously editing, deleting, and creating a visual of a family that does not exist. I am curious about the photographs we do not include in our albums. The cast aside, ripped, sealed in a box photographs that are still a part of who we are and yet cannot live in the ideal family album. Within certain societies, the illusion of a “normal family” is perpetuated and defined by a heteronormative, patriarchal structure. These standards are socially constructed and exist because we feed into them. All of this is made to adhere to a representation of a “normal” family, yet there is no normal. We are all part of complicated family dynamics that transform over time. My story is intertwined with the journey of my father and thus I am seeking to explore my relationship to him and dismantle ideology, family, memory, and identity. This is my process of healing.


The work is presented in a handmade book that includes a smaller separate zine in the back where certain parts of the book are translated into English from Italian. Please refer to last image in this project to see the book dummy.


Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.



I wonder where you are and

what you might be doing.


I wonder when the letters

started and why they stopped.


I wonder how my mother

first spoke of you.


How did she explain

who you are to

five-year-old me?


Did I understand?

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.

I have very few photographs from

when you and my mother 

were together.


Her memories of you
are faint and distant.


She used to say my hands
are like your hands:
long and thin,
and fit to play the piano.


And when I speak
my hands try to speak for me
just like yours.


Are they like yours?


Can I be like you when I did not

grow up seeing the way 

your hands speak for you?


Can I be like you when I did not 

grow up hearing how delicate 

you are with your words?


Can I be like you when I did not

grow up learning how tender you

are with the world around you?



Still, you have always been there,

in the back of my mind,

Suppressed under layers of

dust

and time.


What is a father anyway?


I look for you in the faces of others.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.

There are many parts of you

that I do not know,

that I might never understand.


You have another family.

Do they know I exist?


Two sisters who have

my eyes

and your eyes

and your mother’s eyes.


I fear they will reject me.

I fear they will

I fear

I


My tears begin to fall

because there are many

parts of me that

you will never know.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.


Since I was very little,

I have been collecting

little pieces of you.


I kept tangible memories

from those few surreal

and summery days

when we met.


Sugar packets

and train tickets.


I think I needed to physically

hold onto those memories

we created together.


To believe it was all real.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.

Still, I don’t know you.

I don’t know if I ever cared to know you.

Maybe I am lying to myself.


I tried to meet you,

many moons ago,

across oceans and several countries.

I was 16 years old.


I was staying at a hotel in Italy when

I received a knock on my door.

My heart beat and beat and beat.

I opened the door to find the

manager of the hotel with a fax that said you could not make it because

your train broke down.


You left me questioning in my

hotel room if a fax was an

appropriate way 

to declare that

you are a coward.


Many years went past before

we finally met.


Before I finally met my father.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.

It took 24 years to finally meet you.


On a summer day,

you were waiting

for me and my mother

at the exit of an airport in Italy.


My heart beat loudly.

My mother’s heart beat loudly.

She was also meeting you

after many, many years.


When I was a child, I used to wonder 

what you would think of me

if we finally came face to face.


I was trying to grasp

onto something

that didn’t exist.


A stability I never knew.


Now I wonder if you ever thought

about what I would think of you

if we finally came face to face.


Still, I am afraid of who I will

become if I get to know you.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.


After all those letters

saying you would visit.


After all those promises.

After you stood me up.

After years and years.

After.


I came to you.


Without much thought,

without planning,

without wanting to.


I flew to you yet again.

This time with my mother.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.


The day we finally met,

I saw myself in you.

That scared me the most.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.


It was strange to see

you and my mother

together.


It was strange to be

held as if you

knew me all along.


It was hard to see

you cry on the chest

of my mother as if

you were a child

yourself.


My tears are fading

the more I unfold

all of these

memories.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.


Maybe one day

we will meet again

where the earth crumbles

into the sea.


Where we cannot

hide anymore.

Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.
Quetzal Maucci explores her relationship to her distant father using photography, mixed-media, and text.







The next image is a selection of pages from the book dummy. 

The entire book is 114 pages long and is hand-bound by the artist herself.

Using Format