Second Sight

27 Apr 2013 - 21 Jul 2013
Slide show: 
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick
 Second Sight 2014, Stills.  Photography by Alan Dimmick

Second Sight is the first in a series of projects entitled Image / Identity which will take place at Stills over three years to explore how the movement of people from one place to another, has become a normal part of contemporary society. The project consists of screenings, events and creative projects in which you can participate - please join our exhibitions, projects and events to find out more about the themes of migration, diaspora, transnationalism and multi-culturalism.

The concept of emigration is well-known in Scotland through the history of the Highland clearances and the achievements of pioneering Scots entrepreneurs abroad, but less is known of the experiences and identities of people who choose Scotland as a new home. Whether we consider the stories of families migrated from China, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan or Poland, the aim of Second Sight is to reflect upon what the experience of migration involves. In today’s society, notions of identity and belonging are no longer restricted to a sense of belonging to a specific place of residence and are increasingly influenced by the connectedness of on-line networks and frequent travel abroad.

Please take time to look at our programme of film screeenings and events and the Online Archive.


The selection of works in this exhibition entitled Second Sight are concerned with the experience of human migration, which has become woven into contemporary society and touches all our lives, whether through communities welcoming new cultural influences; communities diminished by emigration or through the services and products made by workers relocated for labour-related motives.

In Stills’ main gallery the three photographs by Frank Monaco (USA 1917-2007) were made shortly after the young photographer found himself during WWII posted near to his parents’ village of birth Cantalupo in the region of Molise in central Italy.

Born in America, Monaco was one of millions of first-generation immigrants brought up with a dual sense of cultural identity, speaking one language with his family and another beyond his home. It was this dual fluency that enabled him to integrate within his parents’ community and motivated him to capture the ordinary and extraordinary moments of life of a community stretched across multiple countries and cultures.

Living not far from Cantalupo, in 2001, filmmaker Agapito Di Pilla discovered the little-known works of Monaco and in doing so, found a mechanism for unlocking the silence that surrounds the experience of migration. His three short films in this exhibition rupture the passivity of our experience of Monaco’s subjects and enable us to enter into their lives to replace what we imagined with the reality of their migration stories.

If there is an assumption that migration leads to improved lifestyles, the works of Adrian Paci (Albania 1969) and Fausto Colavecchia (Italy 1959), ask us to reconsider. In the single image Centro di Permanenza Temporanea by Paci, and Father, by Colavecchia, we witness the submission of migrants to the routes of travel and control of employers as they submit themselves to foreign regulations in exchange for an opportunity to use their physical capacity and skills for financial gain. The human experience of this exchange is explored poetically and critically in the books A Seventh Man (John Berger) and Guests and Aliens (Saskia Sassen) which are included in the Reading Area of the exhibition.

About The Village (A Poem for Multiple Voices) by Maria Thereza Alves (Brazil 1960) explores our nostalgia, frustrations, hopes and fears about the territory that we originate from. Over a period of two years, Alves discussing the views about their place of origin with Italians living in and beyond Italy. With every encounter she discovered a differing set of views which shared a constant: the strength of feeling about the place itself.

The film works of Valentina Bonizzi address the transition in identity of people who share the legacy of migration. Il Gancio (The Hook) explores the connectedness of teenagers living in Glasgow, Paris and rural Italy who have constructed a friendship and identities founded upon shared ancestry. Living in Scotland for over eight years, Bonizzi creates her works from sustained periods of dialogue and research with people. Her film Quotidiana is an ongoing project about the acts of everyday life and the role they play in the formation of memory and identity. The opening image of Quotidiana is of a place somewhere in the countryside. We do not learn its name. Instead, we hear recollections of everyday rural life, interrupted by the outside world and the life of the migrant, weaving to and fro between one reality and another.

Throughout his short life Robert Capa (Hungary, 1913-54) followed the displacement of war, recording moments of humanity of both perpetrators and victims. His image ‘Girl with Suitcase’ was made outside the village of Radicosa while he followed the Allied troops of the Fifth Army in central Italy during the winter of 1943. As part of a series commissioned by the US Army to stimulate support of the US campaign, Capa documented the people of Vallerotonda and Filignano, caught up in the intense conflict between German and Allied armies at the moment their lives were transformed from free civilians to disempowered refugees.


Online Archive: Migration & Scotland

A specially designed online archive of photographs documenting migration to Scotland.

This website celebrates the cultural diversity of people living in Scotland by sharing photographs of experiences of migration into the country. Second Sight invites people to bring their historical and contemporary photographs to be scanned and uploaded onto the website to create the first image-based archive of migration to Scotland. The site will enable people to search by key words associated with migration: Preparation, Departure, Journey, Arrival, Acclimatization, Integration, Return.

Stills invites people to come to Stills individually or in groups, and to join us in a creative session to tell through your photographs stories of travel and new lives. The sessions will take place in our comfortable reception space and last about a half an hour depending on how many images you share with us. Give us a call on 0131 622 6200 to arrange a time to come in.

Contact us at /


Stills would like to thank Tony Macaroni and Arts and Business Scotland New Arts Sponsorship Award for their funding and partnership in producing Second Sight.

For information please email or call 0131 622 6200.

Image  Il Gancio (The Hook) Video installation 9 minutes (2012) Valentina Bonizzi was born in Italy, 1982 and lives in Scotland.