Italian Ghosts, Lybia

During the period of its Fascist regime, Italy employed modern architecture to represent its imperial ambitions in Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. The presence of ruins of Roman era architecture in Libya were used as political anchors to legitimize the “return” of Italy to these territories and the creation of a “new Roman Empire”.

However crucial they were for the colonial project and for Italy’s history and identity the modernist architecture of Italian colonialism is as little known as the entire period of Italian colonialism and its ongoing legacy.

The embarrassing elegance of this architecture contrasts with the crimes of the colonization that have never been acknowledged; the “Gheddafi-Berlusconi reconciliation” of 2009 attempted to bypass, ignore or forcibly produce a farce of the past.

The afterlife of these buildings might help to unpack and reveal the strict problematic relation between modernism and colonization, Italy and its colonial ghosts.

DAAR’s contribution to Monditalia, Venice Architectural Biennale curated by Rem Khoolhaas in 2014 is an installation that turns a confessional inside out, shifting it from being a religious-psychological apparatus for personal redemption into a political tool that calls for the exposure of the neo-colonial relations that still tie Europe and Africa in a thousands of webs.

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