Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Roman Anti-Fascism

Among the many forms of political graffiti I have found in Rome, the anti-fascist statements may be the most prevalent. This is especially true in Testaccio. I found the stenciled image above painted on the wall along the street next to the Tiber. It appears to advertise the student movement against fascist politics. I have been assuming all along that the Romans who participate in political graffiti are younger, but this is the best piece of evidence substantiating that presumption so far. I have seen this particular stencil painted in many places around the city.

This piece of graffiti expresses the equation of fascism with Nazism. Reading about the "Open City" period of Roman history during World War II today, it is clear that Nazism carries a similarly negative connotation in Roman society as in the US. This also explains the figure throwing away a swastika in the stencil above it. In Rome, the political right is often accused of being fascist and so it is entirely possible that the same people who are making this political graffiti are also making the communist and other leftist pieces. The two groups would at least be connected in their opposition to the current government. Being out of power, I think, is part of what motivates this sort of political statement. The media is not especially free in Italy making surreptitious political statements more normal.

With a tip from Hillary, I found this fist in a tunnel on the Vie Due Marcelli. This piece was among many others painted in the tunnel in what appears to be a sanctioned public graffiti art project. The smashing fist is reminiscent of the anti-fascist stencil above. The fist seems to be a meme in contemporary Italian street art, but I am not sure if it connected to the anti or the fascism in anti-fascism.

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