This artwork is made up of 38 separate pages from an old magazine called Rivista Coloniale. This magazine was published in Italy from 1906 to 1943. Dawit L. Petros selected parts of the covers, dividers, or contents pages from these magazines to reproduce as prints. Most of these are displayed in groups on the walls, though four are displayed on a table to mimic how you would read a magazine. Rivista Coloniale was meant to encourage Italians to move to the countries Italy was occupying such as Eritrea in Africa.
This artwork appears in an exhibition called Spazio Disponibile, which is Italian for “available space.” Magazines like Rivista Coloniale often had blank pages which were “available spaces” that could be bought for advertisements. The title also shows us how colonizers often see other countries as space they can take over and use. They forget people already living in these countries and the effects that colonization will have on their lives.
These prints are displayed in chronological order (from earliest to latest). There is one print for each of the 38 years that this magazine was published. Since there were some years of magazines that Petros couldn’t find copies of, he included blank pages as their placeholders. Dawit L. Petros removed most of the text from these pages and pulled out important images and graphics for us to think about. The changes in their designs over time show the changing values and objectives of the Italian government.
Dawit L. Petros’ artwork is strongly tied to historical research. He often works with archival objects and documents (things that have been stored and preserved to keep track of our histories). He makes changes to those archival objects and displays them in new ways to help the viewer re-think the histories those objects hold.