Italian Ghosts

Italian Ghosts, 2014

Mixed-Media Installation; Confessional; Monitors: A Scandalous Beauty (5’50”, Loop, Silent); Confession (4’10”, Loop, Sound)

Room 8

During the Fascist era, Italy used modern architecture to represent its imperial ambitions in Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. The presence of Ancient Roman ruins in Libya was used as a way to legitimize the “return” of Italy to those territories and to create a “new Roman Empire.” However crucial it was for the colonial project and for Italy’s history and identity, the modernist architecture of Italian colonialism is not well known. The embarrassing elegance of this architecture contrasts with the crimes of colonization that have yet to be acknowledged. The afterlife of these buildings helps to unpack and reveal the problematic relation between modernism and colonization. The confessional, a religious–psychological apparatus for personal redemption, can serve as a political tool that calls for the exposure of the neo-colonial relations that still tie Europe to Africa.


DAAR – Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal, Eyal Weizman with Vittoria Capresi, Emilio Distretti, Piergiorgio Massaretti, Sara Pellegrini, Lorenzo Pezzani

Photographs: Vittoria Capresi, Lorenzo Pezzani

Images: Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’oriente, Rome (ISIAO); Ventimilia: Anno XVII–1938 (Tripoli: March 1938); Gian Paolo Callegari, I villaggi Libici (Turin: Airone 1941; “I Nuovi villaggi colonici della Libia”, in l’Italia Coloniale 12 (December 1939); ‘Libia”, in Rivista Mensile Illustrata 1 (January 1939)