1939 Tremiti Islands:
During Fascism, hundreds of people all over Italy, almost exclusively men, were arrested, put in the records and confined because of their homosexuality. Among these several interventions we took into consideration the one reported in the essay “La città e l’isola” (The city and the island) by Gianfranco Goretti and Tommaso Giartosio.
The book reports the detentions in 1939 in the city of Catania which ended in the largest operation of confinement on the island of San Domino of the Tremiti isles. Here the “arrusi”, as they defined themselves, the “pederasti”, as they were defined in the documents, and the “femminielli”, as they are still called by the inhabitants of the island, stayed for more than a year. Daily life was subject to rules, censorship, prohibitions, always under the control of the security force. The people under arrest were almost all illiterate and tailors, workmen, farmers, and in part employees and teachers. In the colony they were all living in common halls.
The confinement of homosexuals during fascism was an act of segregation and repression performed as silently as possible. The victims themselves and the inhabitants of the island who had witnessed this act contributed to maintain the silence. There are not any alive “arrusi” anymore and the old people of S. Domino who were children at that time seem not to remember very well these “femminielli”. “They were dressed like women, they were doing a lot of parties, some of them cultivated the crops, some others were tailors or barbers”.
This is all we got to know from those who constitute the historical memory of Tremiti. Some inhabitants of the island even do not know (or they pretend they do not know) of the confinement of the “inverted love”. There is not any monument, any sign of their presence. The only sign in their memory is a commemorative plate. A few lines, as desired by the politician Vladimir Luxuria, graved, almost hidden, on a wall of the town hall.
So we have decided to interrupt this silence and to look for a way to tell through images this story forgotten by history books and erased from the memory of those who lived it, with what remains of it: the documents and the island.
Gone to the dogs / In pasto ai cani
Di Collettivo Domino (www.collettivodomino.com)
23 Oct – 10 Nov 2015
opening Friday 23 Oct 7 pm.