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In pursuit of autonomy: Autonomia and the archive

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The Historical Archives of the Fondazione Fotografia contain over half a million photographic objects relating to the northern Italian town of Modena. Adopting all types of photographic processes and dealing with a broad range of subject matter, the collection details shifts and currents within both the photographic medium and the social and political landscape of the town itself. This article stems from the period in which I was artist in residence at the Fondazione Fotografia earlier this year. During this time, I attempted to trace the regions prominent yet ambiguous radical politics of the 1970s and the early 1980s, particularly the ‘Autonomia’ movement, through the context of the photographic archive. This research seeks to reflect on this process and undertake an exploration of the movement in relation to the archival enterprise, particularly the ways in which the wider concept of the archive as a framework presents issues that intersect with those dealt with by the movement itself. In doing so, I investigate the role played by the archive in the establishment of historical and political narratives and the ways in which it both constitutes and reinforces structures of power. The process of tracing Autonomia through such a framework confirms that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
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Keywords: Autonomia; Fondazione Fotografia; Italian history; archive; left-wing antiauthoritarian; photography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent Scholar

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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  • Scene is dedicated to a critical examination of space and scenic production. The journal provides an opportunity for dynamic debate, reflection and criticism. With a strong interdisciplinary focus, we welcome articles, interviews, visual essays, reports from conferences and festivals. We want to explore new critical frameworks for the scholarship of creating a scene.
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