Tra due rive straniere (Between Two Foreign Shores) is an audio installation developed in collaboration with researcher Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau' and produced in collaboration with audio producer Marco Stefanelli and the ensemble Blutwurst. It takes audiences on an itinerary through the Valentino Park in Turin. The work employs the audio-walk format, together with banners spotlighting the four sites covered in the narration, to reflect on public memory in a direct and intimate conversation with the audience. Formerly hosting national and international Expos - powerful instruments of public communication and propaganda - the park is investigated as an archaeological site in which to interrogate the construction of Italian identity since the country's unification in 1861. Dwelling in particular on the Italian General Exhibition of 1884 and the International Exhibition of 1911, the work evokes a history of political events that took place in the park and their close connection to Italian imperial and colonial politics.
Walking through the Valentino Park, the audience is invited to observe visible and 'invisible' symbols, monuments and places, reflecting on practices of display, memorialisation, visual representation and their relation to colonial violence. The walk starts at the Monumental Arch to the Artillery Corps, considering the central role of war culture and violence in the constitution of the national identity - and then proceeds to the bank of the river Po where it focuses on the 50th anniversary of Italian unification. During the 1911 Expo, the South American Pavillions built on the river's shores were labeled as Italian "free colonies" to paint the issue of mass migration from Italy in a positive, imperialist light. The third site, the Giardino Roccioso (Rock Garden), focuses instead on the first human zoo that was realised in Italy, in 1884. Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau' narrates the harrowing story of the six people (three men, a woman and two children) forcefully taken to Turin from the Bay of Assab in Eritrea and put on display in the park, subjected to violence and a wide range of racist narratives in the media. The audio-walk ends by the statue of Paolo Thaon di Revel, the first and only 'Duke of the Sea' - still a celebrated hero in the Italian Navy - offering a reflection on colonial warfare and its continuities in contemporary politics and in the military.
A transcription is available for download here.
Commissioned by Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Biennale Democrazia
in collaboration with Black History Month Florence.
> The education project Non più Eroi! [No More Heroes!] is an, extension of this audio-walk and was realised in 2021-2022 in collaboration with Marco Stefanelli and Mackda Ghebremariam Tesfau' with students from the Liceo Gioberti.
Tra due Rive Straniere
[Between Two Foreign Shores]
audio-walk - public art, 2021