“The best stories are told by things, dying things”: (Post)colonial imaginaries, public and private memories of Italian colonialism. In Italy we keep our colonial memory in institutional archives, frequently inaccessible to citizens and almost never exposed to public enquiry. However, there is also an intimate memory of colonialism, kept in small private ‘collections’ of people who lived through that period. In this paper, I will present Immaginari (post)coloniali. Public and Private Memories of Italian Colonialism (curated by Giulia Grechi and Viviana Gravano, Routes Agency): a shared, affective, ‘othered’ archive of Italian colonialism, which is meant to be an open platform for the work of contemporary artists and researchers. Via a public call, we will ask people who own things and stories from the colonial period to send them to us. We will digitalize them and we will return them to their owners. We will invite contemporary artists and researchers to work on these materials, producing ad hoc artworks or events (like workshops for students and teachers). Every activity of the archive will be oriented to let the repressed colonial past emerge, to connect the stories to History, to understand the relations between our colonial past and our present. This process will act through the aesthetic reworking of colonial images, which were so central to the formation of our national culture. Immaginari (post)coloniali will be a living archive, not intended to generate memory but memorability: an archive which tries to understand (without moralism) the pleasure linked to the consumption of racialized images, even for not racist people; which (in the prefix ‘post’) indicates continuity and not rupture with the past; which thinks about the idea of a “community yet to come” (Agamben), through private, intimate, soaked-with-memory things, intended as relational knots.
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