Fare Gli Italiani
The protagonists of the exhibition are the Italians, considered in their diversity, their numerous faces and their traditions, but also in all those phases that have witnessed them join forces in a shared sentiment. A journey which reflects on the long formation process of the national identity, with a big multimedia set-up occupying 10,000 square metres which traces the fundamental steps in the unifying vicissitudes with two parallel narrative criteria. One chronological, the other thematic.
The reading of the story the exhibition’s curators intend to offer is that of a progressive integration of spaces and situations which were initially separate and conflicting. The fractures that have long divided the Italians haven’t just regarded the political situation of a peninsula divided into a series of small States, partly subject to foreign rule. The geographic breakdown was joined by social, political and ideological fractures: just think of the differences ensuing from the contrast of elements such as town/country, centre/suburbs, middle class/working class, governing class/population, Italian/local dialects, monarchy/republic, lay people/Catholics, etc. As well as the persistent north/south divide obviously.
Yet among the many dividing factors, the unifying aspects and experiences gradually ended up prevailing. Certain positive, others absolutely dreadful. Life in the trenches during the First World War, for example, which united millions of soldiers from all the Italian regions in a relationship of brotherly solidarity, based, more than on the irredentist enthusiasm (for the liberation of Trento and Trieste), on the common fight for survival.
A general sense of belonging was also favoured by different, less traumatic experiences: the spreading of the Catholic religion, to start with, and also our remarkable literary and artistic tradition. Not to mention the schools system which, along with compulsory military service, right from the start of the Unity of Italy, was the main instrument through which the project for “being Italians” was accomplished.
The exhibition layout features the most significant moments experienced by the united Italy, told within 13 themed islands, which allow the visitor to acquire a complex and profound vision of the long-term movements, mechanisms and phenomena that have conditioned the country’s history. These include: the farming world, schools, the Church, migratory movements, the First World War, the Second World War, mass parties, the mafia, industry, consumerism, transport and mass communication media.
The 150 years of the Unity of Italy are represented by numerous tools, narrations and languages, also with the support of interactive films and amazing speaking busts of the main historical figures. The heroic elements of the national epopee are documented, along with the prices paid, the contradictions and the disappointments.
Photography, in the form of faded black and white daguerreotypes and gradually brighter and more recent reproductions, show the people and the contexts in their authentic dimension, allowing close-up glimpses (without mediations) of moments of Italian life, the identification of familiar places and observance of the phases of transformation of the towns and the landscape.
The descriptive strength of film makes it especially possible to look at the 20th century phases of the unitary adventure, offering us a particularly lively and truthful picture of Italian society as it appeared in central moments, such as the years following the Second World War and the years of the economic boom. This was thanks to the genius of authors and directors like Rossellini, De Sica, Zavattini, Fellini, Flaiano, Visconti, Comencini, Monicelli and others.
But the theatre also offers us a clearer image of the national identity. The country’s musical identity which, in the 19th century, thanks to the genius of Giuseppe Verdi, made a valid contribution to the dissemination of the ideals of the Risorgimento; and that of prose, which, with Luigi Pirandello and Eduardo De Filippo, succeeded in analytically investigating the psychology and feelings of the Italians.
Then we have the great media of mass communication: first of all the daily newspapers and periodicals, then the radio and television, the vehicles that, more than any others, have succeeded in reaching the various levels of Italian society. Vehicles of culture, entertainment, information and sometimes homologation, have made a decisive contribution to the development of a shared background of knowledge and a shared imaginary.
If you would like more details on the exhibition contents, click here and download the file in .pdf format.