Artista: Alessandra Cianelli

Opera: Sulle spalle (2012)

Bio. I live and work in Naples, South Italy. My research focuses on the lack and/or removal of memory, both at the level of the individual awareness and at the level of our unconscious perceptions, and at its actual reverberations in the wider socio-­‐economic dynamics and cultural practices. I am investigating contemporary society in terms of identity, memories, and processes of construction/de-­‐construction of community values, by performing traditional expressive means and digital media. Currently, I am a yoga teaching-student, too.





‘On (my) back’ – both in the sense of a weight or a piece of luggage carried on the shoulders, and as in ‘back in time’. This work stems from, and is structured around, some family photos and two letters of a soldier from the war front. The concepts of information, of lack of information, of the distortion of censorship – both yesterday and nowadays – are confronted with the hidden and removed memories a family who has suffered defeat and loss. The young soldier was my grandfather, who died in Cyrenaica in December 1940 after a British air attack during the so-called Compass Operation. In May 1940, he had left his small village in Irpinia (a mountainous region in the South of Italy), to reach Libya and combat to defend the Italian fascist empire.

In his two letters – read by my mother – he seems suspended in between the patriarchal hierarchy of the world from which he comes, and military hierarchy of the war: between what can be said and what cannot be said. The letters evoke the displacement of someone who had never left his country before and finds himself confronted with the disillusionment following the discovery of the regime of censorship. On my shoulders, and behind me, there is this removed individual and family story, and the trace of a hidden collective memory. On our shoulders, behind our backs of Europeans and Italians, there is this lack of awareness of the Italian imperial and colonial past. Indeed, the conquest of Libya started in 1911 (during the Giolitti’s age) and lasted until the end of the fascist dictatorship and the fall of the empire. My grandfather was one among thousand human beings lost and fallen in the endless conflictual relationships between two shores of the same sea. He is a victim from the Southern hemisphere, born in the rural South of the North of the World.