My Heritage?

site-specific installation, 2020

 

My Heritage? (2020) is a site-specific intervention within the vestibule of the former Casa d’Italia in Marseille, inaugurated in 1935 and now housing the Italian Cultural Institute. The installation focuses on the historical and ideological context that the building incarnates: the intensification of Fascist imperial aspirations that culminated in the fascistization of the Italian diaspora and the establishment of the Empire in 1936, as a result of the occupation of Ethiopia. As the League of Nations failed to intervene in a war involving two of its members, the so-called Abyssinian Crisis gave rise to a series of conflicts that eventually led to the WW2: a ‘cascade effect’. On the other hand, the attack on the ‘black man’s last citadel’ (Ras Makonnen), together with the brutality of Italian warfare, caused widespread protests and support to the Ethiopian resistance, especially from Pan-African movements.

 

Placed by the entrance of the exhibition Rue d’Alger, it includes a prominent and inescapable sound piece featuring collaged extracts from texts by members of the London-based Pan-African association International African Friends of Ethiopia - CLR James, Ras Makonnen, Amy Ashwood Garvey - intertwined with those of British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst and Italian anarchist Silvio Corio, founders of the newspaper New Times and Ethiopian News in London.

 

Through handwritten notes and the use of my own voice, the installation is a personal musing on heritage as historical responsibility, based on a self-reflective process. My voice is used to highlight such personal process, its arbitrary choice of sources (related to my position as Italian migrant in London), almost appropriated here as an act of thinking aloud and thinking with these militant voices. Heritage is therefore intended as a choice, questioning its nationalist uses and the everlasting and catastrophic effects of Fascist foreign politics. With its loudness and placement, it wishes to affect the visitors, confronting them with the systemic violence that this Fascist architecture outside Italy embodies and to inhibit the possibility of being seduced by its aesthetic.

Developed as part of Rue d'Alger - Manifesta 13 Paralléles du Sud, Marseille, curated by Alessandro Gallicchio in collaboration with Simone Frangi, Marine Schütz and Pierre Sintès.

Video still

Video still

Video still

Video still