Exhibition review: The PR.omised Land, Museo Italiano

Photographic exhibition that displays the Italian migration experience.
The PR.omised Land. Exhibition photo shows a blue painted woman with words written across her body lying on a golden egg-like sculpture.

A new work by Italian expatriate Angela Viora, The PR.omised Land is a philosophical provocation on mapping the body’s movement through space and travel, and canvasses what it means for identity and culture when a person emigrates.

A body-based performance artist, Viora has collaborated with the Museo Italiano and Co-As-It in Melbourne’s historic home of the Italian community, to deliver a series of photographs and a performance work about the contemporary wave of Italian-Australian migration.

Gallery-goers can catch a series of photographs showing how the body can represent travel and migration, which interact with the permanent exhibitions at the Museo Italiano. These photographs were taken in a studio by professional photographer Susi Nodding and are a record of a performance artwork that took place at the 11th conference of the Australian Centre for Italian Studies in Perth in 2022. They are complemented by interactive drawings of the body, where people can add to the questions that are provoked by migration and travel.

The PR.omised Land is a thought-provoking work that explores the predicaments of New Italians as the most recent wave of Italian migrants to Australia, and how these migrants contribute to the fabric of society. But the exhibition has broad appeal to anyone trying to understand the rich tapestry of culture that defines our multicultural society.

A viewer to the exhibition may find themselves asking the same questions, notably: how do we occupy the many geographical, social, political and emotional spaces in which we exist? Which roles to we perform in these places? And when we perform these roles who – and what – are we? 

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Viora, a lecturer in Italian studies at Monash University, has previously performed at the Istanbul Biennial and the MAXXI Museum in Rome, as well as in Australian venues including The Big Anxiety festival at RMIT and the CLIMARTE Gallery. This exhibition is sure to excite anyone with a wanderlust and will inspire reflections on identity and dreams of travel.

The PR.omised Land is displayed at Museo Italiano, a part of Co.As.It, which provides services to Italian migrants. This free exhibition is running until 26 April 2024.

Vanessa Francesca is a writer who has worked in independent theatre. Her work has appeared in The Age, The Australian and Meanjin