What role do images play in the production of meaning and the identity politics of nation states? In Italy, widely circulated tourism images are juxtaposed with photographs constantly reproduced in the media showing the arrival of refugees on Italian coasts. Their contents seem incompatible. In what contexts are these images shown, what is not visible and why were they made and reproduced?
Subjects from the Renaissance are fundamental to Italy’s national visual politics – and thanks to the medium of photography, these images are omnipresent. The tourism industry ensures that these same visual narratives of tourist highlights appear on the souvenir photos of the millions of vacationers in Italy. Tourists’ mobility, taken for granted as it is, contrasts the images in the media of refugees arriving on Italy’s coasts after months of life-threatening treks to then hold out in refugee camps with no certainties for the future. The migration debate has been politicized and polarized in the media discussions largely through these images, especially via social media.
In their conversation, the contributors will examine these visual politics and their instrumentalization: How are images linked with national narratives, memory politics, economic interests and populist exploitation? What strategies could circumvent these mechanisms? How can alternative visual narratives be developed?
The art historian Costanza Caraffa analyzes national visual politics and the mobilization of visual narratives. The artist Massimo Ricciardo presents silent testimonies to displacement from his collection Objects of Escape – Inventories of Migration and Reza Haidari from the #everydaygolshahr network tells of the unseen daily routine in a refugee camp in Iran.