A glass bottle, once broken is not recuperable. It has lost its function and must be discarded. Its contents have spilled, are spoiled and cannot be consumed anymore. The little pieces it has broken into are dangerous: they will poke and cut, and must be collected carefully and thrown away. In the contrary spirit of optimism and hope, Healing depicts the puzzle-like reconstruction of a broken milk bottle, shard by shard, into its former whole self.
Unlike other works featured on this blog that treat breaking as an aggressive act, Di Bella's gesture in the video is one of tender care. It is a patient, calm and painstaking endeavor of a hand to put back in place every broken piece of an object that was shattered previously because of being dropped. This is particularly poignant because the object is a bottle that contained milk, a symbol of nourishment and an unconditional relationship of love. Di Bella reminds us, by example, that the hands that spill are the hands that collect. The hands that destroy are also the hands that create. And the process of healing is often slow, with much effort and attention going into which parts fit where and which do not.
Healing clearly uses a metaphor for dealing with loss and closure of a wound. The metaphor of a heart of glass is an old one. As the saying goes, " Be it a piece of glass or a heart, its finality lies in shattering to innumerable bits". By reversing the above fate, Di Bella allows the viewer to re-appropriate the metaphor in their own way; to perhaps assimilate a space within which they can reflect.
This video is also an example of a recurrent theme amongst several artists : the desire to engage broken glass. What meaning is there, to be found or made, from the act of breaking glass? Or connotations therefrom? The theme will be discussed in a later post.