In my new role as Assistant Director for Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries, I’d like, among other things, to bring aspects of British culture I miss to Rome. Cultures meet at the BSR, something I enjoyed during my time in higher education in the UK: at Oxford where I studied English and French, at University College London where I completed a Master’s in Comparative Literature and the Courtauld Institute of Art where I wrote my PhD on Italian humanist photography. I’ve since published it as a book entitled Italian Humanist Photography from Fascism to the Cold War, which I’ll be presenting this month at New York University.
The world of photography history in the UK is small but vibrant and I look forward to creating collaborations between it and Italian scholars here. A first foray into the BSR archives has revealed a rich holding of early survey photography in the Mediterranean which I plan to examine and bring into conversation with postcolonial art practices in landscape. This research would build on what I began with the exhibition My Sister Who Travels at the Mosaic Rooms (Qattan Foundation) in London in 2014.
My academic career evolved at University of the Arts London where I taught Contextual Studies at Camberwell and London College of Communication within the Fine Arts and Photography departments. I was also visiting lecturer at the Institut français de presse at Panthéon-Assas, Paris II. At John Cabot University in Rome, I taught courses on the history of photography and on architecture under Fascism in Rome. It is here I discovered Posthuman studies. I’ve since begun exploring animal-human relationality in contemporary video art and have a forthcoming article on the topic in the Canadian peer-reviewed journal ESPACE.
In my former role as Director of the Giulio Turcato Archives in Rome I gained expertise in modern and contemporary Italian art and hope to have exchanges at the BSR on this topic. I’m also conducting research around private and public memory in relation to Fascism and the Fosse Ardeatine Massacre in 1944. Thanks to our Director Stephen Milner’s wide-ranging interests I feel inspired to connect the disparate parts of my life, including my alternative, non-arts related history in this city: I also worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and I’m interested in maintaining the BSR’s communication channels with the different UN organisations active here.
The BSR’s increased engagement with the British Council and the British Embassy means we’re looking forward to a substantial co-created programme involving the Creative Industries, which is part of the Creative Sector Deal and the merging of the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector with UK Higher Education Institutions. Among the many plans, I aim to host events related to sustainable fashion as well as a film festival of alternative British film. The BSR will also be collaborating on the Press Play conference to discuss ideas of ‘Creative Interventions in Research and Practice’, opening up dialogues between artists and scholars.
I was excited to put together the BSR’s new Research Strategy with my excellent colleagues Harriet O’Neill, Assistant Director for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Peter Campbell, Assistant Director for Archaeology, with whom I look forward to collaborating on a vast array of projects from object-oriented ontology to the Anthropocene as well as hybridity and false memory. So many pathways to explore.
Martina Caruso (Assistant Director for Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries)
Portrait photo by Antonio Palmieri.