The Power Plant

Italy and East Africa: Unexplored Histories, with Sean Anderson and Fabrizio Gallanti

Sat Jun 20 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 curator Sean Anderson, and a conversation with scholar Fabrizio Gallanti. The conversation will be followed by a Q&A.

On the Immeasureable and the Disappeared

By Sean Anderson, Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Narratives of the early period of Italian colonization in East and North Africa should not be dissociated from later incursions of Fascism. Land, via cycles of re-possession, was conceived initially as an operable medium through which the transformation of “barbaric” peoples engendered visual and spatial discourses signaling bonifica umana or “human reclamation.” For Eritrea, Italy’s la colonia primogenità or “first born colony,” first declared in 1890, although occupied prior, was, like most colonial and imperial domains throughout the world photographed as a way to embed a spectrum of division. Witnessing the coalescing of territory, photographers were keen to record transformations ensuring that the colony and its inhabitants, its landscapes, were translated as Italian and modern. Such displacements—or disappearances—that were reinforced by Italian colonial ambition, are today excavated and challenged in the works of Dawit L. Petros. At their limits, where tensions between geographic and bodily space merge, Petros inscribes a reckoning with the (historical) image and its reception, a reordering in which multiple absences continue to be measured by an imperfect horizon

Sean Anderson is Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He has practiced as an architect and taught in Afghanistan, Australia, India, Italy, Morocco, Sri Lanka and the U.A.E. His second book, In-Visible Colonies: Modern Architecture and its Representation in Colonial Eritrea (2015) was nominated for an AIFC Book Prize in Non-Fiction. At MoMA, he has organized the exhibitions Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter (2016-17), Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959-89 (2017-18) and manages the Young Architects Program (YAP) as well as the Issues in Contemporary Architecture series, with the next exhibition opening in 2021, organized with Mabel O. Wilson, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America.

Fabrizio Gallanti is a curator and architect with experience in architectural design, education, publication and exhibitions. He holds a PhD in architectural design from the Politecnico di Torino (2001) and a M.Arch from the University of Genoa (1995). Gallanti has taught in Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. He was the first Senior Mellon Fellow at the Princeton University School of Architecture in 2014, and currently teaches at the School of Architecture of McGill University and Université de Montréal, and the Architectural Association, London. From 2011 to 2014, he was the associate director of programs at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal. Gallanti served as the architecture editor at Abitare Magazine and as editor-in-chief of the Abitare website (2007-2011), and is a regular contributor to architecture magazines such as Abitare, Harvard Design Magazine, Kvadrat Interwoven, Architectural Review and San Rocco. In 2016 he edited the book MCHAP: The Americas (Actar Publishers, Barcelona + IIT, Chicago). Together with Francisca Insulza, Gallanti is the founding partner of the Montréal-based architectural research studio FIG Projects (2003-present), which curated the exhibition The World in Our Eyes (2016) for the 4th Lisbon Architecture Triennale. In 2019 Gallanti curated the group exhibition L’Attente at Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal and co-curated with Monika Szewczyk, the symposium Atlantic Codes, for Fogo Island Arts in Lisbon, Portugal.

Missed the Symposium?