«Africa sintetica, dinamica, simultanea»: Colonial Iconographies and Contexts in Italian Futurism

Giulia Beatrice, M.A.

This project wants to be part of the still under-developed area of Italian colonial and post-colonial studies, in which visual arts and the history of exhibitions play a pivotal role. Throughout its long history (ca. 1909–1940s), Futurism regularly faced the alterity represented by Africa, before as a modernist and exotic suggestion, later, with Fascism’s rise and the formation of the Empire, as a depiction and celebration of the Italian colonial expansion.
My research will analyze the development of the African, later colonial, theme in the context of Futurism in its entirety and in its various forms.
In the Futurist imaginary of Africa not only there is the colonial propaganda, the glorification of a modern and mechanized war, but also the dream of a merger of the primitive with the modern, of the instinct with the mechanical, a dream of technoprimitivist fantasies. Even though the African continent appears to Futurists as an unquenchable source of inspiration, which allows to dynamically, synthetically, simultaneously transfigure landscapes and situations, to outline the encounter and the impact of the Western society on the African one, seen as “ancestral and primitive”, the Futurist support to the colonial wars (Libya, Ethiopia) and to their unacceptable violences has always been unconditional.
In the project it will be properly highlighted the difference between Futurist art of African subject and Futurist painting of the African war. Therefore, the avant-gardism and the modernity of Futurism are not enough to absolve it from any ideological implication with Fascism and colonialism.

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