Monday, April 21, 2008
Fatal Idealism: The Pippa Bacca Story
In my mid-twenties I made a conscious decision to live an “uncensored life,” meaning I would ignore the inner voice that said, “mmm, maybe not.” The voice that was “keeping me from expressing my true creativity and fully experiencing life.” It was about the same time that I took a solo-backpacking trip through Europe to explore the bohemian life. I was desperate to get to Morocco. Cautionary tales of young women kidnapped and sold as sex slaves would not deter me. Somehow, I never made it farther south than Barcelona having acquired some French traveling companions and gotten sidetracked by the seemingly endless nights in Spain. In retrospect, I think that was for the best.
Having just read the tragic story of slain Italian performance artist Pippa Bacca, I am reminded of those times and my then fierce belief in my own immorality. Bacca, whose real name is Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, set out on a trip from her hometown in Milan to hitchhike across North-Eastern Italy, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Syria. She and fellow artist Silvia Moro would make the trip, at times together, at times splitting up, wearing wedding dresses in an effort to spread a message of peace, harmony and love among nations.
At first glance, it seems an incredibly foolish thing to do. But I do not think these were stupid women. I think these were women who valued truth, beauty and life itself, above all else. Women for whom the prospect of personal harm was less important than the opportunity to alter the course of human relations. An idealistic and perhaps overly simplistic idea, but certainly a worthy one.
“…man, like a small god, rewards those who have faith in him.” -Bacca and Moro in a statement on their website.
The sad reality is that trust and dreams are extremely fragile and exposing them to the world, risky. Three weeks into their journey, Pippa was brutally raped and murdered by a man who gave her a ride in Turkey; a sad, though not completely surprising, ending to their epic journey of hope.
In the end, perhaps Ms. Bacca succeeded in her quest. She will remain a symbol of faith in the human race, which will hopefully inspire greater unity and understanding among the people she hoped to reach. Her story becomes a far different work than she set out to create, but something that resonates deeply, a tragic poem that pokes at the heart and refuses to be forgotten.