Under Black Sun

Luke Richards


Rome, Latium, Italy

In his vision of founding a unique, homogenous identity, Benito Mussolini created the concept of the New Man, placing himself as the hegemonic masculine ideal and using the language, architecture, symbolism and values of the Ancient Roman past to gain popular support. It was an attempt to oversee a reclamation of Roman virility through the performance of a dynamic and charismatic character, proliferating this image through various forms of propaganda in radio broadcasts, speeches, still and moving images. At the height of his power, he oversaw the construction of large, state-of-the-art film production facilities, home to vast sets of Ancient Rome; itself surreally located within the capital city.

Under Black Sun traces this legacy through deconstructing the performance of it’s modern-day followers, once again depicting the New Man against the backdrop of contemporary Rome. Across Italy, like Europe, the influence and appeal of the Far Right is increasing and with this, a complication of how the country confronts and recounts its various histories. The reaffirmation of these values indicates an inability to reconcile the displacement of the white heterosexual male within an increasingly globalised and progressive West, once defined by their Ancient counterparts. Shot on motion picture film, the work follows how Far Right political parties in Italy continue to use the Fascist aesthetics of Roman symbolism and Gladiatorial performance to promote their agenda; blurring the lines between reality and the cinematic.

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