I want to share with you a perspective on a monument and ask your complicity to hack it. Since 2007, the monument to Indro Montanelli in Milan is the focus of activists who denounce its intrinsic violence. The monument is in Porta Venezia, my neighbourhood, and, above all, the district of the Eritrean, Somali and Ethiopian diaspora in Milan. Communities who descend from countries where Italian soldiers used chemical warfare against people during the fascist colonising war. Montanelli took part in this war both as a journalist and a soldier. In this context, he bought a 12-year-old girl and used her as a wife, as accounted by his own statements in several interviews.
No one will ever be old enough to be legitimately bought by or for someone or something. Least of all to be married or to fulfil someone’s wishes or needs. Least of all at the age of twelve. Journalists and other power figures have done their best to underline how much more important Montanelli’s journalistic value is than his dominance over “the other” (not man, not white, not European, not adult). In doing so, they endorse the absolute arbitrariness of the domination system and thereby negate justice. I am gathering faces as signatures of a petition. Faces of twelve-year-olds turned adult.
Faces that create a barricade against the oppressive and dominating narrative that finds space through the monument of Montanelli. The unduly appropriation of others struggles, given the colonial and oppressive context to which the figure of Montanelli refers, represents a risk I actively sought to avoid. Twelve is linked to me in a personal way, and it is from this feeling of fragility that I wish to declare my commitment, the reason I write to you in this public context.
I started Twelve by asking the people close to me to share their face for Twelve and here are 24 people taking a stand: showing their face to support the need to protect not only an age, but also the global right to be preserved from violence, and in particular, from the violence of those in a position of power (be it social or physical power). Twelve years old is so far from adulthood that the photos in this first nucleus of photos do not belong to the subjects photographed: they are images that are the result of careful, often lengthy searches through boxes stored by parents. Many of these images are digital photos, taken perhaps with a mobile phone and uncertain hands of developed photos.
On average, there are few photos of twelve-year-olds, often none at all. This initial collection of images also counts those that were not submitted because lost or never taken. With this letter, I’m inviting you to take part of Twelve: a digital hack of the monument to Montanelli. I would be pleased if you would join the work in progress of Twelve, of which this letter is part, sending an image, a photo of yourself, of your face when you were twelve years old. If you decide to be part of this chorus of faces, you can send the image of your choice to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In all cases, thank you for having taken the time to read it.
With affection and obstinacy
Simona Da Pozzo White brood female artist, born in bourgeois conditions in Venezuela in 1977, I grew up and worked in the Blue Banana until 2018, and now I’m based in Naples. I use conversations and connective actions to explore the public sphere as a space of encounter with the political opponent. My work is project based, it results into multiple formats and has been presented in underground and institutional contexts. I’m part of Ex-voto and since 2017 I’m researching on Hacking Monuments.
image credit: Twelve-year-old Susanna photographed by her father using an evanescent effect