Benedicte Kurzen

2020 - Ongoing

The street lights set the walls on an orange fire.The red and the ocre of Garbatella’s walls, shines like earth itself. Soaked in these colors, actress, Tezeta Nostalgia and myself establish a new map with the shape of her face, eyes, hair. Tezeta uses her body, usually objectified, source of infinite colonial exoticism, as a tool to confront, bring to the surface the voluntary marginalised, hidden part of history. Her name itself introduce in the landscape a certain form of irony. In Amharic, Tezeta means memory, reminiscence, melancholy.

The roof of the Alberg on Via Cardinale Guglielmo Massaia and Piazza Giuseppe Sapeto are our theatres. Both men, Massia and Sapeto, where instrumental in setting the stones of the Italian colonial enterprise in the Horn of Africa. Their names are now engraved in the stone at the corner of the streets of Garbatella. A working class fort, built during fascism, by a regime which marks the pick and the fall of the Italian colonialism.

This body of work addresses our collective memory and its making. It questions the presence of men and women who are honoured in those spaces, such as Indro Montanelli. He defended colonialism and admitted having bought and married an Eritrean girl, 12, during army service in the 1930s. In June this year, his statue seating in Milan was daubed with red paint and defaced with the words "racist, rapist”. It was the first time such thing happened in Italy.

Street names appear to be a minimal details, yet it is an essential part of our daily geography. The city map is a political choice. It is not history. It is a part of the dominant narrative’s fabric, and another unnoticed invasive expressions of power, which shapes our memory.

The grant will allow Tezeta and myself to expand this already existing body of work in various parts of Rome and Milan. With the specific visual values of transparency, juxtaposition and collages we want to create an alternative map, an alternative narrative which include all the actors, literally and symbolically of our history and brings to the surface what the politics wanted us to forget.

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