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Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy

January 25–April 15, 2012
The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum @ 10975 SW 17th Street

Through Wolfsonian collection objects displayed at The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, FIU, Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy examined the central role colonization of Africa played in shaping Italian national identity during the Fascist era (1922–1943).

With the invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Benito Mussolini launched an expansion of the Italian empire in East Africa. Colonization was integral, rather than peripheral, to efforts by the government to forge a social and cultural consensus nationwide, and attracted enthusiastic participation by artists, writers, and corporate interests. This exhibition explored how material and visual culture, ranging from children’s games to construction of new cities, reinforced the cultural connection between the metropole (the Italian mainland) and the African colonies of Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. Even as the Fascist state attempted to impose control over colonial territories, it also made parallel attempts to reorder Italy itself. In both colonies and the metropole, the state undertook reclamation of land for farming, resettlement of populations, rebuilding of cities, and intensive promotion of agriculture and industry. These campaigns, carried out within an expanding, multinational empire, powerfully shaped the modern sense of what it means to be Italian.

Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and curated by David Rifkind, FIU Department of Architecture. The Wolfsonian also thanks the following for their contributions: Maristella Casciato, Jennifer Hirsh, Stephanie Hom, Mia Fuller, Lucy Maulsby, and Michelangelo Sabatino.