In August of 2020, I wrote an essay on debates in contemporary art, race politics, and activism in Italy, in which I questioned the ongoing racial inequity of Italian institutions of contemporary art. While recent scholarship in Italian studies is bringing the so-called postcolonial turn to bear upon studies of contemporary Italian culture, the need for postcolonial art historical studies of contemporary Italian art history is marked and overdue. As an art historian of global postwar and contemporary art, with focuses on European (especially Italian) and African art (continental and diasporic), my current research addresses contemporary art, race politics, and postcoloniality in and around Italy.
Mapping New Directions in Contemporary Italian Art
“As Italy begins to address the presentness of its colonial past, the absence of Black Italian artists in Italy’s museums and galleries persists. […] What might happen if the innovation of Italian arts programming and centrality of the arts to Italian identity made space for the multi-ethnicity of Italy today?”
–Tenley Bick, “‘My world now is black in color’: Pandemic-Era Programming, Anti-Racist Activism, and Contemporary Art in Italy,” CAA International News (August 11, 2020).
In response to this problem, I founded and premiered COSTELLAZIONE (Constellation), an online, bilingual program of live-recorded artist interviews on contemporary Italian art and activism, materials from which you see here.
COSTELLAZIONE includes field-changing artists, both emerging and well known, focused on one work of art of the artist’s choice. The program introduces emerging figures—such as Jem Perucchini, an Italian artist of Ethiopian origin, Afro-Italian artist Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku, and Palermo-based art collective Fare Ala— alongside maestri with shared affinities in the exploration of resistance, activism, and identity in Italy and its cultural geographies, past, present, and yet to come, thereby mapping new directions and complexities in contemporary Italian art. As a platform for creative azione (action), COSTELLAZIONE constellates a new community for dialogue, research, and exchange in our current moment of distance and global crisis.