European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Impressions d’Afrique - Performing the Ethnographic Museum

24-25 May 2013

Rome, Italy | Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini


On May 24th and 25th, thanks to the collaboration between MK and Routes Agency in partnership with the European project MeLa - European Museums in an age of migrations, the National Museum Luigi Pigorini in Rome will host two events: the performance "Impressions d'Afrique" and the discussion panel "Performing the ethnographic museum", with the aim of rethinking and redesigning the museum space with a different approach to vision.

"The choice of Museo Pigorini as a place of performance, is primarily concerned with the cultural ambiguity of the dances shown in "Impressions d'Afrique", which do not refer to ethnographic memories but invent a brand new repertoire of aesthetic contaminations and identities, starting from the tension produced by the Western classificatory obsessions" explains Michael Stefano, MK choreographer.
In the words of Giulia Grechi, one of the curators, we can identify the meaning of this dislocation of dance in the museum’ space: “Many have insisted on the approximate death of Museum, while deconstructing it as a non-neutral and colonial device of identity and power. But before declaring its irreversible demise, we should reflect on the possibility of a new activation of its social functions, above all the capability to build narratives that are able to produce an identification process, a "imagined community", not in a colonial or national sense, but in a postcolonial, intercultural and transnational one, which can create an experimental laboratory for new meanings of citizenship ” (G. Grechi, What dust will rise? Il museo sotto assedio, o in esodo, being published in the journal Visual Ethnography -

In December 2012 Mk had already presented at the Museum Pigorini the performance "Four colonial dances seen at close range" as part of the project Crossing Bodies – Immaginari postcoloniali, curated by Routes Agency for Idee migranti within the exhibition [S]oggetti migranti.



24.25 May 2013 - h.18
Impressions d’Afrique

with Philippe Barbut, Biagio Caravano, Laura Scarpini & guests
choreography Michele Di Stefano
management Anna Damiani with Valeria Daniele
promotion PAV/Diagonale artistica
production mk 2013, Regione Lazio Assessorato alla Cultura Arte e Sport
in collaboration with Routes Agency and Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini Rome
with the suppost of MiBAC

The African continent as prefigured by Raymond Roussel in his novel Impressions d'Afrique (1910) is a surreal landscape, which has no other purpose than to serve as a background for a combinatorial process, based on continuous chain reactions of words and arbitrary clashes of different worlds.
In the same direction goes our Africa, which is unreadable and wild - not picturesque at all – and is furiously prone to absorb all the informations coming from the Western cultural regimes, in order to spit them out in a hybrid unpredictable trajectory.
This project aims to establish new bodily dynamics and postures, and in this sense the movement research constitutes its main goal. Even if the performance pretends to show characters as in an adventure story, there is no romance and no journey, just an “anywhere” which is the place for the collection of different bodily behaviours. We will see a woman destined to be sacrificed, a platoon of Marines in recognition, warriors experts into hypnosis technique ... but they are just bodies who do not know how to develop a story. Their purpose is to identify and bring out the posture of a new identity, in the exact moment of its appearence in front of reality.

The prologue to Impressions d’Afrique staged Novenber 2012 at APERTO Festival, Reggio Emilia I.
The performance will be presented on June 30th 2013 at the BiennaleDanza in Venice.

May 24th 2013 - h.16.15
Performing the Ethnographic Museum
Dances at the Museo Etnografico Pigorini

Curated by Routes Agency
Vito Lattanzi - Museo Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini Rome
Giulia Grechi - Università L'Orientale Naples, Routes Agency
Rossana Macaluso - Routes Agency
Annalisa Piccirillo - Università L'Orientale Naples
Stefano Tomassini – Università Ca’ Foscari Venice and USI-ISI Lugano
Michele Di Stefano – Mk

Viviana Gravano - Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan, Routes Agency

The performance will be introduced by a talk, in which researchers from different disciplines will investigate the relationship between contemporary dance and post-colonial issues, discussing the role that museums (and in particular ethnographic museums) can play in proposing a different narrative of their archives and a renewed role of intercultural mediation.