A Bomb to be Reloaded

2019

Exhibition, video, research

A Bomb to be Reloaded is a long-term research project articulated through a series of collaborations and outputs. It was born out of a chance encounter with the history of Giovanni Pirelli and, specifically, an interest in his involvement in Third-Worldism in Italy. In particular, what struck my attention was his friendship and collaboration with the Martiniquan psychiatrist and decolonial thinker Frantz Fanon. Indeed, starting from Pirelli, the project aims to investigate the influence of Fanon’s thought on a generation of militant intellectuals in Italy. If, on one hand, the project wishes to ‘reload’ this influence by making it relevant in the present, it also strives to maintain a position of criticality towards these issues. Pirelli’s life and work, though, offered the ideal framework and critical approach. Following his involvement in the resistance against Fascism in the Second World War, Pirelli refused his predestined role at the head of the Pirelli industrial dynasty to dedicate his life to cultural and political activism. As the historian and archivist Mariamargherita Scotti suggests in Vita di Giovanni Pirelli (2018), given the radicality of this choice Pirelli was often forced to explain his motivations, so much so that he reiterated it in several pieces of writing targeting different contexts. These passages display a striking lucidity, selfanalysis and criticality that became a pivotal element in the project. In the exhibition, they were present as inscriptions on mirrored surfaces and in the form of  collages, printed on textile banners, which were realised by the students of the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, who were involved in the initial stage of the research.

Chapter 1

The title of the project draws on a passage from the film The Wretched of the Earth (1969) by Valentino Orsini (an homage to Fanon’s homonym oeuvre), in which Fausto – a white, Italian filmmaker – is ridden with ethical and ideological angst as he attempts to complete a film on decolonisation struggles that was left unfinished by his late friend Abramo – a black, African filmmaker. Fausto defines this work as a “a bomb to be loaded so that it might make noise.” This expression acts here as a methodological compass: to think about the potential intrinsic to the activation of this historical material in the present, while considering the ideological commitment that has allowed for both its formation and current preservation. Just as Fausto is faced with the task of paying homage to, and expanding on, Abramo’s revolutionary work, similarly Pirelli took it upon himself to build on Fanon’s legacy. Considering the resonance of the CDFF’s work today can be thought of as a similar process, thus raising many of the same questions that are voiced by Fausto in the film. Furthermore, Orsini’s adoption of Third Cinema aesthetics and ethos provides both a visual and methodological reference to the project. In the exhibition, some of the most critical musings in the film are set in dialogue with Giovanni Pirelli’s self-reflexive writing within the installation A Bomb to be Reloaded (Chapter 1).