Variations on M.

by Martina Melilli & Botafuego Audio


Variazioni su M. / Variations on M. is produced thanks to the support of Lucia Award 2021.

Leo Ferlan was born in 1928 in Idra, a town formerly in the province of Gorizia, now in Slovenia. A botanist, he was sent to Algeria in 1952 for a geo-cartographic campaign after working in Montpellier for three years. Suddenly, a friend of friends burst into his life: Miriam Colautti wrote to Leo to ask him how to find work in Algiers.

Thus began a close correspondence between the two, which continued after Leo’s return to Italy, in the summer of 1954, when he settled in Bergamo. The following year, in September, they got married and she finally joined him. However, Leo died a few years later, in 1961. Miriam decided to donate Leo’s letters to the National Diary Archive of Pieve Santo Stefano, so they have reached us today. However, she decided to burn hers, leaving no trace of them.

Variations on M. works on the absence of Miriam’s words, on the potential of this empty space. Martina Melilli and Botafuego asked Renato Rinaldi to give Leo a voice, and they invited a series of people – different in age, background, experience and sexuality – to speculate, imagine and interpret the missing half of this epistolary exchange: Miriam’s letters. Each time, these people were invited to imagine themselves in Miriam’s situation, drawing on their own experiences and biographical trajectory.

The exchange between Leo and Miriam is rendered through the medium that has now taken the place of the letter: the voice message.




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