Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja Rijeka

Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral

Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja Rijeka

exhibition conceived by: Tea Perinčić and Ana-Maria Milčić
exhibition designed by: Sanjin Kunić and Nikolina Radić Štivić
opening: 12 September 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka
the exhibition will remain open until 31 January 2021

As an introduction to the project Borders: Between Order and Chaos, which the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka is implementing as part of the European Capital of Culture 2020 programme The Age of Power, the Museum will stage an exhibition which marks the one-hundredth anniversary of D’Annunzio’s occupation of Rijeka on 12 September 1919.
“Città olocausta” or, simply, “Martyr,” was D’Annunzio’s name for Rijeka. So in the exhibition, the City at the time of his occupation (1919-1921) will be presented in the way Rijeka was personified in the artworks of that period – as a woman. The exhibition investigates the status of women and the role of the female body during a time of political instability and military conflict, specifically the use of the female body as a metaphor for territory and national borders.
In Italian interwar political rhetoric, Rijeka, as a place of irredentist interest (a location outside of Italian territory which was believed to belong to Italy, without which the state is incomplete; from the Ital. word irredente – unredeemed), has always had a special status as a locus of regeneration. In other words, continuing with the 19th-century narrative of Italian regeneration (Risorgimento), Rijeka became a place through which Italy could improve its geopolitical standing. In Gabriele D’Annunzio’s political speech, the city of Rijeka became a woman’s body, and political, military and national motifs began to intermingle with eroticism, corporality and also violence. The works of the Futurist artists, particularly their leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, exhibit a similar melding of territory, nationality, war, eroticism and the female body in the context of Rijeka and irredentism. At the same time, the Croatian satirical magazine Koprive and the Rijeka Italian publication La Vedetta d’Italia, as well as an abundance of propaganda materials, used the same analogy in the anthropomorphized versions of Rijeka, Italy and Yugoslavia. Through a feminist and post-colonial research prism, the exhibition follows the artistic, propagandist and personal correspondence tied to Rijeka in that era.
The exhibition also alludes to D’Annunzio’s attitude toward the women in his life, who, after ending relationships with him, were “physically and emotionally spent,” just like the city of Rijeka.