• Arborea/Mussolinia
    Andrea Bagnato
    Anna Positano
    Humboldt Books, 2020
    Andrea Bagnato & Anna Positano

Anna Positano, dam on the Tirso river completed in 1924, 2018, Province of Oristano, Italy. Courtesy the artist.

Among the many new towns the Fascist regime built in Italy, Arborea (formerly Mussolinia) stands out. Set in the western coast of Sardinia, it was conceived in the 1920s as an internal colony—an outpost of industrialized agriculture on an island hitherto based on shepherding and communal economies. Its construction entailed the drainage of wetlands, the planting of imported trees, the damming of rivers; population transfers from Northern Italy; and the the deployment of new grain varieties, pesticides, and insecticides. Crucially, the techniques and imaginaries developed for Mussolinia informed the colonization of Libya and Ethiopia, which was taking place in the same period. Arborea/Mussolinia combines photography, text, and documents to recount a place at once real and imagined, decrepit but still productive. Asking how ideas of order, fertility, and hybridity were applied to both humans and nature, the book is a narrative on the “countryside” and its relation to the European colonial past.

Andrea Bagnato is an architect and book editor. Since 2014 he has been working on the research project Terra Infecta, which looks at epidemiology as an agent of urban and territorial transformation. Bagnato has previously worked as publications manager for the first Chicago Architecture Biennial, and is currently head of publications for the Sharjah Architecture Triennial. He also teaches at the Architectural Association and Piet Zwart Institute. He coauthored A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change (Columbia/ZKM, 2019).

Anna Positano is a photographer and artist. She graduated in architecture at the University of Genoa and then obtained an MA in photography from the London College of Communication. Her work encompasses the reciprocal influence of landscape and society. In addition to her artistic practice, she works on commission for architects and public institutions. She is regularly published in architectural magazines, including Casabella, Domus, and L’architecture d’aujourd’hui. Her projects have been exhibited internationally in the Milan Triennale, Venice Architecture Biennale, the Hartell Gallery at Cornell, MAO Ljubljana, and the Villa Croce Museum, Genoa.