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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rome Posters, 2012

 Like the rest of Italy, and unlike the U.S., Rome is a poster city.  There are thousands of them on building walls or in huge metal poster holders (we wonder if there's an Italian word for these frames) that line the streets, and turnover keeps them current and entertaining.  Many are narrowly political--for this candidate or that--but others are broader in subject matter and appeal.  A majority have right or right-center content.  Here are some our favorites from 2012.

It was appropriate that we found this poster to Alessandro Alibrandi in the Trieste quarter of Rome, for it was there, in 1975, that he and some other young, right-wing ideologues formed a group called Nuclei Armati Revoluzionari (Armed Revolutionary Nuclei).  The NAR, as it is commonly known, was a direct-action organization that killed people on the left.  Alibrandi did his share of the shooting and killing.  In the late 1970s, he turned to more ordinary forms of organized crime, working with la Banda della Magliana, headquartered near Ponte Marconi.  He died in December, 1981, following a gunfight with police at the Libaro station, a few kilometers from Rome.  As the poster reveals, some people still consider him a hero.  (For another post on the right-wing in the Trieste quarter, see this one on Piazza Vescovio and also the one on Zippo, who some might call a thug, but the right-wing wants to see as a political hero.  Also see Paul Baxa on neofascism in the Tuscolana section of Rome.)

Italians are not alone in thinking that their economy would benefit if its citizens bought Italian products.  This poster, sponsored by the right-wing group Noi Oltre, proclaims "Against the Global Crisis/Support the National Economy," and in slashing letters, "Buy Italian Products."  The main figure appears to represent a worker, gesturing in a sort of "Uncle Sam Wants You" way, with an industrial facility beneath.  Noi Oltre is headquartered in an upper-middle class neighborhood in Monteverde Vecchio; it has 893 Facebook "friends."

Water is in increasingly short supply around the world (one can purchase an ETF [Exchange-Traded Fund] that specializes in water), and areas that have it in abundance, like the U.S. Great Lakes or Rome (from the mountains nearby) guard it jealously.  Here, the center-left Democratic Party accuses the right-wing Rome mayor, Gianno Alemanno, of "swindles and 'assaults' to sell off the Romans' water." 

Lazio, the region in which Rome is located, has a garbage-disposal problem; the regular dump is full, and 2012 was highlighted by a search for a new location.  This poster accuses Renata Polverini (referred to as La Polverini), then the president of the Lazio regional government, of not only cancelling a festival at Hadrian's Villa--a major historical site located just beneath the hill town of Tivoli--but of working to turn the Villa Adriana into a dumpsite.  "Vergogna," it reads: "Shame on You."  Polverini later resigned, but not because of garbage issues.

This poster strains our knowledge of the language.  It's in favor of a nationalist, socialist, and secular (laica) Syria.  It calls for a June, 2012 demonstration in Piazza del Popolo, "in support of the people and the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic."  At the top/center is the claim that the USA considers Syrian elections a sham.  But the ad's ironic take on NATO air power suggests that the poster is opposed to any sort of foreign intervention.  One pilot asks, "Where are we going?" and the other replies, "To teach the Syrians how to vote."  Support for the existing Bashar al-Assad government--we think.  (Readers comments and interpretations welcome).

Here's proof that the right has more entertaining posters than the left.  That lean and nasty critter is a version of Rome's founding myth: the she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus.  This she-wolf is angry at what's happened to Europe, and especially angry at the bankers and financiers who (the poster says) dominate the EU and damage Italy with currency speculation.  The folks from Noi Oltre that printed it promise to defend "the nation" and its "people."  Former (and most hope he stays that way) Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has tried to rile up the masses by claiming Italy should return to the Lira.

In this photo, it's hard to see what it is that the wolf is stomping on.  So we've blown it up for you--below. 


It's a 1-Euro coin, the symbol of the hated (by some) European Union and its financial oligarchy. 

Noi Oltre is probably Rome's most active non-party postering organization.  This poster attacks immigration on the grounds that it violates the occupational rights and the identity of native Italians:  "Defend Your Work/Defend Your Rights/Defend Your Ground."

"Sign the Law/Stop Equitalia."  That's the message of this poster by CasaPound, a right-wing group named after Ezra Pound, the American poet who lived in Italy and supported the Fascists during World War II.  Equitalia, subtly presented here as a blood-sucking vampire bat in a business suit, is a decade-old public company, created to collect taxes and to help prevent tax evasion.  It is sometimes referred to as the "legalized mafia" for what some have seen as draconian policies and methods: small tax debts that accrue large interest payments, mortgage foreclosures of properties only minimally in arrears, and so on. Of course, Italians sometimes are viewed as the most expert - worldwide - at tax avoidance.  In 2011, the director of the Rome office was injured by a bomb sent to the Equitalia address.

A recent protest against tax-collector Equitalia. 


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