The Power Plant

Italy and East Africa: Unexplored Histories, with Carmen Belmonte and Irene Campolmi

Sat Jul 11 2020

7:00 AM – 8:00 AM




To consider multiple perspectives about migrations, modernism, and Italian colonization in East Africa – the subject of Dawit L. Petros: Spazio Disponibile – in greater depth, The Power Plant presents a series of online conversational programs in partnership with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura.

Initially conceived as a symposium, this series seeks to illuminate how this period of colonization in African and Italian history informs the current political climate, past and present migrations, and how artists continue to respond to its legacy.

This program will feature a presentation by Carmen Belmonte, and a conversation between the scholar and curator Irene Campolmi. The conversation will be followed by a Q&A.

Italian Colonialism and Its Legacy: The Transnational Lives of Works of Art

By Carmen Belmonte, PhD, Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, Columbia University/ Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

This paper aims to frame the relationship between colonialism and the arts in Italy, investigating the artistic politics and the commissions of selected monuments and works of arts realized or displayed to celebrate colonial events. The focus will be on their cultural life in the longue durée, embracing both the first colonial endeavor in East Africa in the last decades of Nineteenth century and the subsequent fascist colonialism in Ethiopia during the Thirties, and reconstructing the evolving history of their reception in postcolonial Italy. The histoire croisée of Italy, Ethiopia and Eritrea will be retraced by analyzing the movements and the displacements of artistic objects such as the painting representing the battle of Dogali by Michele Cammarano (Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna, Rome), the Obelisk of Dogali (Rome), and the sculpture of the Leone di Giuda (Addis Abeba).

Carmen Belmonte, PhD, is currently a fellow of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University. Her research focuses on the visual culture and legacy of Italian colonialism and Fascism, as well as on the history and theory of cultural heritage after natural disasters. She studied Art History at the University of Udine (Ph.D. 2017), at the University of Pisa (Diploma di Specializzazione 2011), and at the University of Calabria (M.A. 2007; B.A. 2004). Carmen has been a research fellow of international institutions, including the LARTTE LAB of the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa (2009-2011); the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History (2017-2018), and the American Academy in Rome (2019). Starting from 2019 she is a postdoctoral researcher at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut and an external lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of Florence.

Irene Campolmi is an independent curator and researcher based in Copenhagen, working and living in transit. In 2020, she guest curated a solo show of Dawit L. Petros at The Power Plant. In 2019, she curated the Performance Program An Endless Present for Enter Art Fair, Copenhagen; an exhibition by Basim Magdy at MAAT, Lisbon; a retrospective of Jesper Just exhibited both at MAAT, Lisbon and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; and a solo exhibition by Wu Tsang at CC. She co-curated the Estonian Pavilion Birth V. Hi, & Bye by Kris Lemsalu at the 58th Venice Biennale and edited a book on Jesper Just’s live performances published by Mousse. In 2018, she curated talks, film and performance programs for Code Art Fair in Copenhagen, and the collective show #whatif for Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen with Forensic Architecture, Renzo Martens and Naeem Mohaiemen. Her current research investigates postcolonial ecologies and performance that investigates postcolonial, queer and feminist theories. In the past, her curatorial research and practice have focused on tracing the narratives supporting the 21st-century displays of those art museums who demonstrated an interest in researching the legacy of untold modern art histories and their influence in contemporary artistic research trends. Before joining the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen as a PhD Fellow to work on a thesis about the ethics supporting research and curation in modern and contemporary art museums, she was a research fellow in the Max Planck Institute research group "Objects in the Contact Zone: The Cross-Cultural Life of Things".

Missed the Symposium?