La Tunisia


“La Tunisia” is a monograph written by the Political Military Command of the Italian Major State and published in February 1912. “La Tunisia” is defined as a geographical, political and ethnographic report about Tunisia. It can be considered an handbook for colonialists as well as a textbook and maybe a guide for tourists.


This publication is part of a large group of editions on East Africa in which is possible to find all the enthusiasm felt for the first half of the twentieth century by Italian government for the imperialist and colonial enterprise. Starting from this book, Pelagica has undertaken a research using it as a way for adopt a different point of view about the relationship between colonialism and tourism. The project’s curators Laura Lecce and Fabrizio Vatieri invited to contribute Giuseppe de Mattia, Giuseppe Fanizza, Tothi Folisi, Rachele Maistrello, © NASTYNASTY (Biondelli Emiliano and Valentina Venturi), Anna Positano and Angela Zurlo. The space belonging to Pelagica in via Termopili becomes an occasion to read back the book and to reflect on the relationship between colonialism and tourism in the Mediterranean, with a focus on a geographical area involved in a complex international crisis. Pelagica has designed an installation to subvert the museification of the great colonial enterprises consist in a display that collects books, sculptures, photographs, video, sound interventions and some objects specifically made for the project.

Curated in collaboration with Marco Trulli


Eng.Title Changes of ownership and false papers fabric, silk and cotton paper (paper ship 106 x 75 cm)

Angela Zurlo, Passaggi di mano e carte false

Dirty nigger! Or simply: Look! A nigger. I was entering the world, worried about finding a sense of things, with my heart full of desire to be at the origin of the world, and behold, I discovered I was object among other objects (Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks)

Anna Positano, On Our Way to Tunis

On Our Way to Tunis analyses the route of the Genoa-Tunis ferry, during the passage to and from Tunis. Drawing from semiotics and parametric geometry, the outcome of this work aspires to build a map of the route generated by non-geographical data, yet by the interaction with the other passengers and the spaces of the ferry. The analytical process will accompany the map in the form of the documentation (recordings, notes, photographs, objet trouvé). In this early phase, the work deals with the ferry half an hour before its departure from the port of Genoa. The people, the goods and the cars are getting on board, while the viewer is still and detached. There is no encounter among the travellers and the viewer. At the same time there is an attempt to contact the Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation, the company that runs photographs and an e-mail exchange are the first step towards Tunis.La-Tunisia_©Pelagica_05

Chromogenic prints, prints on paper storage

Fabrizio Vatieri, Deglet Nour

In this work are used a few pages of the Journal of the fascist Italian Society of Africa, “Africa”, to package some tunisian dates, follows the traditional paper cone of street food in the city of Naples (Cuoppo). The date in this case draws the palm tree, the symbol of the imaginary exotic and colonialist and that often recurs in photographs. The artwork also includes a sound intervention, a text read by a mechanical voice, converted from a transcript (not transliteration, as there is a correspondence between the system of transposition and the Arabic writing system) of some texts traits from the publication La Tunisia, translated using an online virtual keyboard for Arabic speakers and an automatic translator from Google. In both the two sides work try one “dismantling” of the lyrics and a sense of their shift. Inviting us to reflect on the Arabic language in the context of the web and on misunderstandings or symbolic references often wrong that its use often generates.La-Tunisia_©Pelagica_02

Tunisian Dates, Africa (italian fascist magazine), installazione sonora©fabrizio-vatieri_untitled-(deglet-nour)

Giuseppe de Mattia, Penna Coloniale

The fountain pen Aurora “Ethiopia” is often cited as the most rare and valuable among the models produced by italian Aurora company. For a long time pen collectors told a false story about this pen. The story told that it was produced by the company at the request of the fascist government to be supplied to the officers during the war in Abyssinia. This story is entirely fictional, and the pen is in the Aurora catalogs from 1936, when the war was already over (the proclamation of the empire was in May 1936), and it was marketed at least until 1938. It is quite clear that the pen wasn’t produced to be delivered to the officers sent to war. This object could be considered, a clear homage to the italian colonialist thirst. The “French Palmà Tunisia model” is a fake, created to ironically celebrate Tunisy as french colony obtained in 1881. On May 12, 1881 was signed the Treaty of Bardo: France, already in Algeria since fifty years, beat to the punch Italy that was attempted to take power in Tunisy. After the occupation the french protectorate aimed to invest in the exploitation of natural resources (agricultural and mining) and then to develop transport networks (road, rail and sea).La-Tunisia_©Pelagica_04

Fountain pen, photocopies on archive paper


We are interested in the fancy tourism in places where Lucas filmed Star Wars, in Tunisia. They are alien structures built in the Tunisian desert, somewhere on the border with Algeria and they have been preserved by sand and arid climate for thirty-five years and now they are visited by tourists who go there with the help of precise coordinates traceable in specialized websites. What is interesting is how these futuristic villages of big Hollywood productions have been transformed into “ancient ruins”, historical monuments, contemporary archeology where there is no boundary between reality and fiction.

Rachele Maistrello, REENACTMENT #1

“The north is the north, although not the only, but is just a reference, every degree of the compass enjoy equal dignity, any point on the earth is both the origin and the end of the trip, turned over each time and to the occasion. If I could accept that what is important is only the stroke, the treat, as you call the path, with no regrets of leaving or arrival; or to know that departure and arrival can be the same thing . In flight … now I do it very well, but in my life? I continue to take it head on , remaining crushed by the vision, staring it in astonishment, so that a single scene or a memory or an obsession around the cluttered visual field; somewhere there is definitely a periphery of the eye from where everything can be reduced to its measure, a maneuver of eyes a that puts in proportion.”La-Tunisia_©Pelagica_09

Digital print on mirror
Animated Gif on HD screen

Giuseppe Fanizza, Storia dei KrumiriLa-Tunisia_©Pelagica_06Postcards,botany table, digital print on archive paper, ceramic plate, shoes, tin boxLa-Tunisia_©Pelagica_16


Kroumirie is the name of mountainous region of the tunisian Atlas mountains close to the Algerian border. Khumir tribes who inhabit this area, became legendary for their raids on the borders that also were the pretext for the invasion of France in Tunisia in 1881. Their name was linked to a sense of rebellion and ferocity and in Europe several products were called with the name “Crumiri”. In France the term became a racist and discriminatory adjective. In unions lexicon the term indicates those who refuse to participate in a collective strike. The transformation over the centuries of the meanings of this term, its link with an arab unconscious always intended to negative,is an interesting “language case” to investigate.


Found fabrics, print on archive paper

Tothi Folisi, Tunisia


The spectacle of the world is itself, its own end; in this sense, it aims to express the end of his story, his death. Marc Augé.
A couple of days ago Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was awarded with Nobel Prize for his decisive contribution to building a pluralistic democracy after the so-called Jasmine Revolution. Nobel is now an highly symbolic prize, but still very important, for establishes a criterion to check in the future which will be the basis that the international community puts for its goals in North Africa. In the work “Tunisia” I try to focus on the loss of the european vision in front of residues of existing disasters. In this residues Wars, Terrorism, Entertainment, Holidays, Colonialism, Tourism can coexist. All these elements taking responsibility away from the audience. Marc Augé in “Le temps en ruines” talk about tourism as a final act and goal of any war, if this is true, what remains once  the story is finished? What remains today of the terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum of last march? And that of june on the resort’s beach in Sousse, in the gulf of Hammamet? A bombardment of images good for spend time with friends before ending up, talking about the greatest systems. The world as a digestive organ, reduced to a stomach that absorbs and regurgitates all the informations. The fabrics used for this work were found in the sea off Sicily, belong to a collection of materials found around the island, the small fanzine is a selection of frames of videos and documentaries about traveling Tunisy.