Wednesday, January 25, 2012

day job, exhibitions edition

Four new exhibitions open tonight at the Frost Art Museum at FIU, including Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy. I curated the show with Jon Mogul of the Wolfsonian-FIU. The exhibit uses materials from the Wolfsonian collections to explore the relationship between material culture (all of the physical and visual stuff a society produces) in Italy and its colonies during the 1930s. I'm particularly interested in the relationship between Italy and its African colonies: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Libya.
[update: photos from the opening]

Four labels in the exhibition were guest written by friends who are experts in Italian culture during the Fascist era, including Mia Fuller, Jennie Hirsh, Stephanie Malia Hom and Michelangelo Sabatino. The Wolfsonian Teaching Gallery at the Frost (funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation) is a relatively small room, so we had to reduce the amount of material on display, and cull down the exhibit label texts. Nonetheless, I am really happy with how the show turned out.

Tonight's opening runs from 6-9. I will also give a gallery talk at the Frost on February 1 at 6pm.

Here is the main panel text, which appears on the display case I built with Eric Peterson (and which is meant to evoke the stele that appeared in seemingly every Italian exhibition after 1935):

Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy examines the central role African colonization played in shaping Italian national identity during the Fascist era (1922–1943). Colonization was integral, rather than peripheral, to efforts by the government  to forge a social and cultural consensus nationwide, and drew in the enthusiastic participation of artists, writers, and corporate interests. The modern sense of what it means to be Italian was shaped by the political demands of Benito Mussolini’s regime, in relation to an expanding empire that included Arabs, Africans, Greeks and Albanians. This included large-scale resettlement programs that relocated Italians to new cities and hamlets in Italy and its African colonies, usually to work as farmers in newly reclaimed land.

Drawn from the collection of The Wolfsonian–Florida International University, the exhibition explores how material and visual culture, ranging from children’s games to the construction of new cities, served to reinforce the growing cultural connection between the metropole (the Italian mainland) and the African colonies of Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. And it investigates links between the Fascist state’s attempts to bring colonial territories under its control and parallel campaigns to reorder Italy itself. The 1935 invasion of Ethiopia (and subsequent occupation of Albania and the Greek Dodecanese Islands) expanded an empire that included the colonies of Eritrea (first settled in 1890), Somalia (1888) and Libya (formed in 1934 from two colonies, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, taken from the Ottomans in 1911).

No comments:

Post a Comment