2013-2016

Via Garibaldi

A characteristic trend in the development of modern Europe is the erosion of its cultural homogeneity. Enlargement of the European Union through the accession of new Eastern Europe countries, as well as the "Islamisation of Europe" occurred because of arrival of migrants from North Africa and Middle East lead not only to an increase in cultural diversity, but also to an increase in internal conflicts in European civilization. Fear of ceasing to be a nation, fear of loss of identity and, as a result, distrust of the state (it is increasingly seen in the speeches of politicians) lead to "a new regional nationalism". In addition, against the background of strong global integration processes "strengthening the role of the new local" is going on. The evidence of it is a wave of independence referendums of the regions in Europe that has been place in recent years (Scotland, Catalonia, Veneto).

There are particularly strong regional differences in Italy - a country where a single national state has been formed recently as compared to some other European countries. The Italian press publications dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, said the existence of the formed Italian single nation. However, according to many experts, and the Italians themselves, it is too early to declare about it: the process of nation formation still remains incomplete, as evidenced by regional differences and contradictions and the socio-economic disparities between North and South of the country.

In addition to the regional identity, the inhabitants of Europe have three levels of identity - European, national and cross-border. The latter is connected to a common European type of inter-territorial integration - a Euroregion (a transnational co-operation structure between two (or more) contiguous territories located in different European countries. Euroregions represent a specific type of cross-border region).

The particularity of Italy unlike other continental European countries is that the formation of national identity is not completely coincided with the formation of the Unity of Italy in historical terms. For the Italian history it is important to separate the concept of "unity" and "identity". "Identity" - something dynamic that develops in the course of history, while the "unity" for Italy - it was a dream which came true at a particular moment in its history. The period of the unification of Italy – «Risorgimento» is closely linked with the name of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a national hero and leader of the national liberation movement. It is interesting that about half of the participants in a survey conducted in North Italy on the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy had a negative answer to the question of the unity of modern Italy, but most respondents chose a fighter for the unification of the country as their hero.

A little more than 150 years after the «Expedition of the Thousand» (Spedizione dei Mille (it.) - military liberation campaign of Garibaldi), I made my trip by Italy, traveling throughout the country from north to south in bicycles. In every village/town I was looking for Garibaldi Street (via Giuseppe Garibaldi), as such, in almost every city. Making a Polaroid picture on each of the streets, I was trying to highlight images and symbols to help identify the Italians at European, national and regional identity levels. Having deconstructed and reassembled the Italy from the Garibaldi streets, I try to clarify - what is the "Italianicity" [1] and whether the unity of Italy is possible again, despite regional differences?!

It's interesting that in Russia there is practically no level of local/regional identity. Constant scrapped in Russian history, "Great Terror" (a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938), new cities formed around the factories and mass emigration from Russia during Soviet period almost completely destroyed the historic binding of the Russian people to the area, the local level of our identity. I was concerned about whether it is possible to replace the erosion of the role of local self-definition by national one, whether the accession of new territories contributes to formation of national identity or it is a temporary "unity" as well as for Italy during the Risorgimento – just a dream, which came true in a specific time period!?
[1] - italianité (fr.), italianità (it.) - a neologism coined by Roland Barthes in his article "Rhetoric of the Image" - "is not Italy, it is the condensed essence of everything that could be Italian - from spaghetti to painting"
The project is realized in the form of pocket map. Below the dummy of the project is presented.