La democrazia in America

Curated by Luigi Fassi


This exhibition project came about as the result of an urgent need shared with a group of Italian artists born in the 1970s and 1980s to reflect on certain problematic aspects of the history of contemporary Italy, from its uncertain development as a democratic republic during the post-war period, to its stop-start relationship with the history of united Europe, its instability and the complex geopolitical transformations currently taking place.

The exhibition project intends to explore some of these crucial aspects and is based upon the shared reading, both by the artists and the curator, of a particular source of inspiration for reflecting indirectly on the country, the essay Democracy in America published by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835.

Written as a travel journal and describing his discovery of new American democracy, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America examines the great modern European dilemma at the time: the advent of democratic man and the unstoppable drive towards égalité des conditions, equal rights and equal conditions for all citizens, which was first officially manifested in the New World. Tocqueville’s ideas and the reception of his work have both always been strongly linked with the history of Italian culture, from his visit to Sicily in 1826 to the first Italian translation of the French text of De la démocratie en Amérique in 1884. In no other country has Tocqueville’s text been commented upon, published and translated to the extent it has in Italy, where it has accompanied some of the decisive moments of the country’s cultural history.

The exhibition project focuses on the key themes of Tocqueville’s thinking ‒ the relationship between freedom and equality, the role of political parties, the function of the free press, the link between individual wealth and political equality ‒ in order to lead to the creation of new works and new reflections by each artist. The final aim is to read the reflections of Democracy in America from a contemporary Italian perspective in order to trigger new ideas, theories and interpretations by the participating artists regarding present-day Italy and its recent history.

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