From a gateway on Via Sessi in central Reggio Emilia one can see men
and women in suits streaming out from the offices of Credem bank.
Right next to the bank lies a private home, a rich-man’s villa with
a gatekeeper hidden behind a hatch door. Through the portal a green
and austere garden can be seen.
On the opposite side of the narrow street
there is an ancient building that looks abandoned. The dirty, grey
plastering is peeling, and in some places cracks expose the
underlying stones. If you approach the trunk of the building you can
feel a cold, cloying gust of damp and mold from the darkness behind
the iron bars in the cellar’s sickle-shaped windows. Looking up you
see closed wooden shutters except for one window on the second floor
with exposed, shattered panes. “Casa Barbieri”, it says on the
chipped marble plaque next to the wooden door. Above the door, which
has been blocked with a riot barrier, traces of the original
architecture from the 16th century can be made out. A stone portal,
a cornice, and two identical terracotta figures. Two bucrani – bulls’
heads with strange braids on either side – Roman symbols of wealth
If you stick around for long enough you
will notice that the palazzo is not abandoned after all. A window on
the lower floor is open. One can faintly make out voices, dogs
barking, a radio playing.
Reggio Emilia is an organic town in an almost dream-like way.
Awash in umbra, terracotta, ochre, light yellow and olive green the
alleyways open up to piazzas with Baroque churches and basilicas.
You can find those classic cafés and confectioneries where they
drink espresso over a bar in dark wood with intarsia. In the evening
the tables on Piazza Prospero are laid with white tablecloths and
linen, turning the piazza into a large dining room.
As early as post World War I – long before other municipalities in
Italy – Reggio Emilia developed its social services including
pharmacies, hospitals and a public library, Biblioteca Popolare,
founded 1910. Mussolini harbored a deep mistrust for the area, and
rightly so, since the Emilia region attracted partisans during World
War II who determinedly pursued their goals. The city had been a
socialist and communist stronghold since the beginning of the 20th
century and there was an admiration of Soviet-style communism, at
least up until the Prague Spring in 1968. Names such as Ivan and
Andrej are not uncommon among the older population of Reggio.
Communist mayors were in power from the beginning of the 1960s and
ruled relatively independently of the central communist party for
close to thirty years. Cooperatives were founded and municipal
preschools established on the basis of an educational model that was
to be named after the city and spread all over the world. It was
a new form of teaching based on social constructivism and
collectivism. In keeping with Deleuze’s ideas a rhizomatic
relationship to learning and knowledge was emphasized, instead of
teaching in stages. Reggio also succeeded in maintaining a good
relationship with the Catholic Church that has always had a strong
position in the region despite communist rule. When people in Reggio
speak of the city’s 20th century history they often speak of utopian
collectivism rather than dogmatic communism, of so-called “Emilian
PCI became Partito Democratico della
Sinistra (Democratic Party of the Left) in 1991 and a new party
symbol was launched. The hammer and sickle were diminished in size
and placed under a tree. The symbols of communism were made smaller
and overshadowed by the tree, but clearly there was no desire to
entirely remove the symbols that so many had pinned their hopes on.
The re-formed communist party is still in power in Reggio to this
Casa Barbieri is the kind of palazzo built by the Italian
nobility of the cities in the 16th century. Buildings that needed a
host of employees for their upkeep: servants, cooks, stable-hands,
gardeners and administrators. Around the back of the building is a
rusty scaffolding draped in dirty plastic, which blows in the wind
like a torn curtain. Through the scaffolding, behind the mansion’s
wrought-iron gates there is a portico with two rows of three pillars.
Underneath it the ground has been piled with scrap metal, old tires,
planks and rusty bicycles. Large bushes have taken root and vie for
space with the junk. On the second floor there is an ancient balcony
with a wrought-iron railing in a style called a petto di tacchino.
All the windows are empty.
In the back yard, one finds oneself on a
dismal parking lot with the fancy name Piazzale dell Automobile Club
Enrico Ferrari. If you turn around and take a close look at the
façade of the nearest building facing the parking lot you will see
slight traces of a fresco, which marks the end of what used to be
the palazzo’s garden. This was once a large trompe l’œuil fresco
that mirrored the mansion’s portico with its six pillars but added
on trees, bushes and flowers stretching the garden into imaginary
During World War II the palazzo’s garden
was made available to the city. The scarcity of food meant that
every opportunity to grow vegetables was taken advantage of.
Casa Barbieri lies just a stone’s throw from the heart of Reggio
Emilia. Walking some hundred meters down Via Sessi and then taking a
left for another hundred gets you to Piazza Prampolini with the
cathedral, baptistery and the city hall. Taking a right instead
takes you to Reggio’s largest square, the Piazza del Martiri del 7
Luglio, which in turn is directly connected to Piazza del Vittoria,
the historical site of political gatherings in the city. This is
where the banks are located, as well as an enormous theater and
civic museum, with its strange collection of historical objects.
The name of the piazza – Martiri del 7
Luglio – refers to the five citizens of Reggio Emila who were shot
dead by the police during a demonstration on July 7, 1960. This is
an event that has etched itself into the memory of the city. In
addition to the name of the square, the event is commemorated by
events on the square every year. In 2010, the 50th anniversary of
the event, an exhibition was mounted outside the Biblioteca delle
Arti on the square’s western flank. Month by month it listed the
events of 1960, both big and small. The 15th anniversary
celebrations of the liberation from the Germans were commenced with
the holy mass. At Lux, one of four open-air cinemas, Eisenstein’s
Battleship Potemkin was being shown. At the others they showed
Hollywood movies. A general strike was declared on July 7 and a
large crowd gathered on the Piazza del Vittoria. In 1960 there had
been several clashes with the police in cities around Italy,
strengthening the revolutionary atmosphere in the whole country. The
police wanted to disperse the crowd and started shooting
Piazza Martiri del 7 Luglio is adjacent to Reggio Emila’s central
park with its acacias, cedars, chestnut tress, plane trees and a
little train for kids. They say that those who see themselves as the
true citizens of Reggio have increasingly abandoned the park. It is
now more popular among Africans, Ukrainians and others who do not
have a car and cannot afford to spend their spare time in shopping
malls or private clubs with pools outside the city.
Relative to its size no city in Italy has
taken in as many immigrants as Reggio Emilia. The percentage of
those born outside the EU living here is more than twice as high as
in an average Italian city. Albanians form the largest group but the
Chinese are the most visible. They run cafés and businesses, and
around the train station a miniature China town has started forming.
There are also large groups of people from Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco
and Eastern Europe.
On those two squares two different concerts are held one evening in
July 2010. On the Piazza Prampolini two young communists in white
shirts and ties are selling their newspaper, on the Piazza Martiri
del 7 Luglio Lega Nord with its green t-shirts, gadgets and flyers
is to be found. The Lega Nord supporters give a more self-assured
impression. When the party was formed at the end of the 1990s they
wanted to get rid of the poor southern parts of Italy and form an
independent state made up of the wealthy north or alternatively form
a coalition with Austria. In later years the rhetoric has been
turned on immigrants instead. Lega Nord garnered strong support in
the 2010 election, obtaining 14.7 percent of the votes in Reggio
When the Reggio Emilia philosophy for
preschool learning was created it was in part a protest against the
country’s fascist inheritance. It was hoped that this form of
education would make children immune to all forms of anti-democratic
movements. But in the year 2010 this immunity is no longer so
If you happen to be in the park adjacent to Martiri del 7 Luglio
at noon it is highly likely that you will see a man in his
mid-sixties wearing mottled shorts and a worn t-shirt, if he is not
walking around topless. He is out walking with his little son whom
he at times carries on his belly in a baby carrier and at times
pushes around on a plastic tricycle. The man is unshaven and missing
a few teeth. This is Francesco Barbieri, the owner of Casa Barbieri.
For a while he lets the child ride on the children’s train under the
acacia trees. It is a short excursion. Soon they’ll be back at the
dilapidated palazzo on Via Sessi.
When Francesco Barbieri returns he pulls aside the riot barrier and
unlocks the gate door. Inside, there is a narrow passage past an old
gray-blue Citroen with its back seat missing. A gigantic antique
mirror with a golden frame stands leaning against the wall. In the
space between the building’s two porticos there is a shaft-like
courtyard. The space under the first portico functions as a mix
between a junkyard and a mechanical workshop. The inner courtyard is
something between a garden and a garbage dump. An enormous,
overgrown chestnut tree has shed its large leaves over the years,
leaves that have never been raked away but rather form a sagging
blanket in various degrees of decomposition. In this blanket, potted
plants have been placed amongst an array of random objects: a large
collection of roof tiles, plastic bags, scrap metal as well as
uncountable things that the eye registers but the mind cannot take
in. Still this is one of the least cluttered places in the mansion.
Here there is some space for Francesco’s dogs to move about, even
though they prefer to roll around on the stone floor of the portico.
They are two Basset hounds, incredibly round and heavy. Everything
about these red-eyed animals is weighed down by gravity: the bags
under their eyes, their ears and bellies. Francesco is proud of them
and says that the breed is featured in Shakespeare’s works. He feeds
them with the dry white bread that the bakeries throw out. He
rummages in a paper bag and throws them bits that they catch in
mid-air and devour with crunching noises. The dogs take their role
as watchdogs seriously. They bark at every noise from the gate and
the one dog has no qualms to snap at strangers.
Even Francesco has had his share of bites.
He bears the scares on his face, traces of a deep bite over the eyes
and down towards his cheek.
The third dog is a mongrel that one of the
Basset hounds has impregnated. Francesco has built a kennel for the
strange hybrid puppies of the fat Basset hound and the little bitch,
only a third its size.
Around the entire courtyard a rusty scaffolding has been fused with
the mansion through a compact wall of creepers, mainly ivy. It is
this scaffolding that creates the sense of a shaft by caging in the
space. Somewhere in the blanket of rotting leaves, half sunk, there
is a smallish metal cage housing a crow with missing tail feathers
and a broken wing. When approached, the crow starts to hop up and
down in the cage mechanically. The leftovers fed to the crow give
off a heavy stink of rot, which probably also has something to do
with the thick layer of composting leaves and all the other unknown
things that may be found hidden under them.
Francesco says that he saved the bird from
the jaws of one of the Basset hounds, that he felt sorry for it.
Over the years the crow has gone through different phases. In 2008
it was very debilitated with a broken wing, but still crow-like. In
2009 it was in a state of grotesque decline without a tail and with
almost no feathers – unbearable to look at. In the spring of 2010 it
had miraculously recovered with its feathers growing back and by the
summer it had started resembling a crow again, in spite of the wing
that still hangs down and its lack of tail feathers. At the same
time Francesco’s beloved son was born and named after Francesco’s
Francesco and Guido live with the child’s
mother, a woman from Cuba, in the part of the mansion that is still
inhabitable – the lower floor of the eastern wing. Here there are a
couple of rooms and a kitchen that could belong to a completely
different world. The kitchen is complete with stove, extractor fan,
clean pots and pans and a closet with neatly folded dishcloths.
These rooms could be part of any other older apartment in the
historical parts of Reggio Emilia. In the history of the palazzo
this was the area allocated to the servants. The Barbieri family
lived on the second floor, beyond a monumental marble staircase.
Francesco’s girlfriend would never think of opening the large
wrought iron gates and wandering up the stairs covered in dust,
rubble and pigeon droppings. Even Francesco himself seems to have
given up on these once central parts of the building. He avoids
going up there. It just gives him a bad conscience.
The palace was erected in the 16th century by the
aristocratic family Scaioli, later to be taken over by the Benizi,
another aristocratic family from Lombardy. At the end of the 18th
century the palazzo was extensively renovated and at the beginning
of the 20th century it was taken over by the Barbieri family through
Francesco’s grandfather. This grandfather was not a nobleman – his
ancestors in Modena had only acquired the Italian equivalence of “sir”,
nobiluomo, a title that the family lost in the course of history.
The grandfather was an engineer and the owner of a substantial
amount of land. This is why Francesco Barbieri’s title in official
registers is still agricolture (farmer).
However, there was also another Barbieri
family in Reggio Emilia, one that was considered more refined. The
Casa Barbieri family felt a need to mark their presence in the city.
Every day they practiced a ritual. At five the horses were harnessed
to the carriage and they set off on a slow tour through the city.
The whole family always went along on these parades and they
attracted many onlookers. This went on right up to World War II. The
three daughters were considered great beauties and they constantly
displayed new jewelry and new clothes. But not all the onlookers in
the city appreciated the family’s parading habits. Some gave them
the nickname Barberein – the small Barbieris. There was also a son
in the carriage: Francesco’s father Guido.
In his youth Francesco travelled a lot. He has been all over
the world, in America and Asia. He visited the casinos in Lido. Now
he goes nowhere. With the exception of his short daily excursions he
is always in his house. Francesco admired his father, Guido, the
elegant engineer who drove sports cars. He owned a Bugatti and was a
Formula 1 driver. But his mother met another man and his father
increasingly kept to himself in the palazzo. Guido was eventually
deserted by his wife who moved to Milan. He couldn’t get a grip on
things; the mansion became neglected.
Francesco became a pharmacist but only
worked as such for one month. He was politically uninterested but
did not like the communists who dominated Reggio. He saw himself as
an aristocrat and associated himself with the political right. He
loved beautiful things, especially antiques. He became a collector,
reselling certain items. But mostly he just hoarded things: Art Deco
furniture, antique mirrors, paintings. Most of it was just stacked
on the top floor of the palazzo where there was lots of space.
Francesco was gullible or indiscriminate. He didn’t care. It became
apparent that a large part of the antiques that he had bought were
stolen goods. He resold them without papers and ended up in prison.
It was a short move. The prison lies just a block away.
Guido died in 1984, seventy-six years old, and Francesco inherited
Casa Barbieri where things were piling up and the servants were long
gone. Soon there was no longer any hierarchy amongst the objects.
Cases, plastic bags, car batteries, umbrellas, mummified vegetables,
pharmaceuticals, electricity bills in unopened envelopes, plastic
crates, empty cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, roof tiles, mattresses
all scattered among the antiques. Nothing was sorted, organized or
classified. The things were stacked together and some of them
started falling apart, the onset of erosion and rot.
Casa Barbieri lies adjacent to another, more modern building.
Francesco is also the owner of this building and it can be reached
via an archway from the courtyard. In the neighboring building’s
courtyard stands a crane, some twenty meters high. Next to it there
is a cement mixer and a wheelbarrow filled with hardened cement. The
crane’s base is overgrown with grass. The renovations that were
started here, probably some ten years ago, must have been abruptly
This second house has been badly damaged by
the elements and most of the flooring and roofing has cracked.
Francesco got it into his head to move the roof tiles from one of
his countryside houses to the palazzo. Nevertheless, a heavy
rainfall ruined the building, as well as the house at the
countryside, and the vague attempts at repairing it have stranded.
Guido had a sister who also lived at Casa Barbieri. Her daughter was
paralyzed and a Moroccan helper was employed to look after her. Soon
some Moroccan friends moved in. Francesco didn’t care. They could
stay in what used to be the fine rooms on the upper floor, which had
increasingly become a storage space for all manner of junk. There
are murals and frescos on the ceilings, and in the most splendid
room there are three pastoral landscapes, probably painted in 1830
by Giovanni Fontanesi, a pupil of Giuseppe Boccaccio. These are
three peaceful scenes in afternoon light: a view of the Alps, of a
lake and a temple, and a view of a little hill with acacia trees and
a villa. On the ceiling there is a monochrome of cherubs and
One of the larger rooms has probably been closed for some time. A
pigeon has built its nest in the alcove of a window facing Via Sessi.
An ugly chick spends its time there and stares sourly at anyone
wanting to enter the room. It contains remnants from the sixties: a
pool table, ceiling fan, playing cards, and above all untouched
bottles of alcohol. A crate of “Scarpa” Barolo wine from 1967,
bottles of rum, bourbon, whiskey and champagne – all unopened and
covered in a thick layer of dust, pigeon droppings and spider webs.
For several years the room had functioned as the socialist party’s
clubhouse and it must have been abandoned in a rush considering what
was left behind. The party’s presence in a palazzo which had
probably already started falling apart by the mid 1960s is just one
of the many strange parallel lives of the house.
By 1996 the second floor had been taken
over by the helper and her family and friends, who in turn invited
others. It grew to quite a crowd and the floor became a sort of
unofficial refugee camp. The neighbors contacted the police who came
and evicted the Moroccans. The upper floor was deemed uninhabitable
by the authorities.
In a room on this floor there are stuffed wardrobes in the Art Deco
style with honey-colored doors, as well as an armchair with water
damage and large boxes that arrived by post a long time ago but were
never unpacked. Next to it there is a kitchen with a rusty stove and
a Madonna on the wall. In the attic there is a room where a slightly
rounded beam has been replaced and fresh, strong floor planks have
been stacked. A discontinued or suspended renovation attempt.
The pigeons have taken over the attic as
well as all the rooms on the upper level. Pigeon droppings cover
most everything and when dry they form a layer of fine dust that
whirls around like smoke in the sharp lines of sunlight that cut in
through the wooden shutters. Dead pigeons in various states of
decomposition lie spread out throughout the rooms and can barely be
told apart from the gray droppings, the dust and the structure of
the flooring. The pigeons seem to see themselves as the mansion’s
rightful rulers. They do not leave the room when somebody enters,
instead flapping around provocatively, and waiting for the intruder
Every room and surface in the palazzo has
once been decorated. Even the dangerous rooms – rooms where in
effect only the raw framework and beam constructions remain of the
ceiling and floor, rooms where one is forced to walk on planks and
has to carefully watch one’s step – bear traces of this. New organic
ornamentation has formed around the open windows where creepers have
felt their way around the window frames with tentacles that want to
experience the interior of the house. In places, for example in the
passage above the marble staircase, these vines have succeeded in
surviving and establishing themselves some way in on the inside of
the wall. Elsewhere, these attempts at expansion have been doomed,
leaving only traces of dried, herbarium-like growth patterns in the
plaster of the walls and the ceiling.
Twice a day Francesco goes on his
excursions. At noon and around 6pm. At 6 he packs his two Basset
hounds and his son into the dilapidated Citroen in order to drive to
one of his other properties in deep decline. On one of them he has
taken to growing vegetables and grafting trees. He says that he is
grafting shoots from fruit trees with inedible fruit onto trees with
sweet fruit. Trees with bitter and inedible fruit are more resilient
and can handle the cold better. He says that he is harnessing their
resilience and power and strengthening the more sensitive trees.
Casa Barbieri is a place where the fight against total ruin is very
unbalanced. Francesco feels shackled to the palazzo. He has nothing
to fend off the decay with, but he is dependent on the mansion the
way one is dependent on a loved one.
All of Casa Barbieri’s objects, remains,
layers and stages of decay are fragments of stories and biographies.
But there is nothing romantic about the decline of the palazzo.
Rather it is a painful reminder of how quickly material objects can
fall apart – the dizzying speed at which matter gives in and things
lose their function. In the mad collection of objects in the rooms
of the palazzo much of the value we allot to things is nullified.
Collecting can be an expression of the will
to conquer or the wish to hold dominance over a small fraction of
the world. It can be a fixation on owning and squirreling as an
expression of a fear of loss of that which has been previously
conquered. It can be the answer to the fetishistic phobia of not
owning. The omnipotence of the collector can find expression in the
mimetic and metonymic qualities of small things, since models,
miniatures, and exact to-scale copies attract him. Other collectors
feel things telling them something or rather whispering to them.
They crave attention, understanding, they become semaphores, the
term that Krzysztof Pomain uses in Collectors and Curiosities to
denote an object that has been filled with new meaning. As
semaphores they are written into a new system of signs and sign
relationships in the same way that a collage creates an image or
sequence where the different sources remain and are turned into a
relationship, or a collective discourse.
Collecting can be the expression of an
obsession with beauty in certain things or a will to create a
narrative with the use of objects. It can be a mania to compare and
see variations in a theme, something which may be invisible in the
individual object but which is detected as a common denominator in a
collection. This form of comparison and classification can also be
part of the pleasures of archiving – by establishing taxonomies and
other systems that give the world stability and push away the threat
of the chaotic and the psychotic in our existence, an indiscriminate
world where everything attracts our attention in the same degree.
Walter Benjamin emphasized the bewitching
aspect of collecting: the will to set aside a part of reality, take
it to a protected space, to delay the gradual yet constant
dissolution of things. The archivist shares this conserving instinct
with those who document. This “resisting of erosion of memory, the
inevitability of passage is the motor force behind this, the first
documentary’s aesthetic functions.”
The chaos in Francesco’s “assemblages” is
the opposite of archival order and does not have much to do with an
instinct to preserve. The rooms in the palazzo are rather an
enactment of the chaos and the psychotic concurrence that are the
result of the dissolution of categories.
Casa Barbieri has nothing to do with
notions of conservation, care and cultural heritage. The palazzo is
an insult to all notions of progress, development and refinement. It
is a complex anomaly in a cityscape, and as such its existence is
unthinkable in most cities.
In nation building, city planning, and civil society, boundaries are
drawn between the collective’s parameters and the responsibility of
the individual. The modern project included the question of which
behavior and attitudes could be included in the collective. “What is
the common zone of action?” was the question asked in modernity. In
the ultra liberal and ultra capitalist society, the individual goes
about his or her life without the involvement of the collective. It
is ownership that bestows the right to act in a certain way within
the private and the public domain. But if this ownership is in
conflict with larger ownership interests – for example the hunger
for valuable lots in central spaces in the city – then people become
inventive in order to circumvent ownership rights. Mostly, big fish
manage to swallow the little ones.
Instead of excluding the aberrant, the
modern project strove to include and correct it so that it could be
adapted to and function within the frames of the normal. How the
boundaries of normality were drawn has differed in different
societies and communities. Francesco has at times been punished and
corrected by society. He has been imprisoned, his spontaneous
refugee camp has been closed and he has been hindered from executing
his ceiling refurbishments, which have gone against all regulations
regarding cultural heritage buildings. But aside from this, he has
been left in peace. Maybe Reggio Emilia’s tolerance has been unique.
Francesco himself does not complain of being ostracized or badly
treated. The plot of land that he owns in central Reggio Emilia,
opposite Credem bank and the grand private villa must be highly
desirable. Still he has resisted all temptations and possible
pressures to sell the house. The reason for his opposition is hard
to grasp: maybe laziness, sentimentality, disinterest,
pig-headedness, maybe an attachment to the objects, or perhaps a
feeling of guilt towards the history of the family and building
Francesco says that his little big eyed son
is the only beautiful he has. He also says he thinks of selling the
house every day but that he never gets round to it. It is not the
best place to grow up in. Sunlight doesn’t even reach the inner
courtyard. He knows that he should go and speak to the bank, that he
should fill in the papers, but every time he thinks of it he feels
more anxious. He inherited the building from his father and wants to
pass it on to his son. The palazzo should stay in the family.
Francesco is not embarrassed about his life or his house. The
degeneration is his own fault, he says, but he doesn’t care what
others think of him. The people of Reggio Emilia can say that he is
crazy if they want. But in that case they do not know him. Or else
they are forgetting an important question: does a person not also
have the right to give up?
 See Cyrille Guilat, The French and Italian
Communist Parties, Frank Cass Publishers 2005.
 Reggio Emilia is known for its preschool educational model that
was practiced in its municipal preschools, but not as known for its
traditions within psychiatry. When Italy was united five national
psychiatric clinics were established in cities with a psychiatric
tradition. One of them, OPG (Ospedale Psichiatrico Giudiziario), was
built here. At the time Cesare Lombroso’s ideas regarding criminal
heritage dominated. Much later, in the 1970s, it was R.D. Laing’s
alternative ideas, so-called anti-psychiatry that garnered strong
support. Mental patients were released onto the street. However,
this did not apply to the closed ward at OPG, where Roberto Succo
was held for five years before escaping in 1982 and embarking on a
violent spree in France and becoming one of the worst serial killers
in history. Bernard-Marie Koltès based his play Roberto Zucco on
Succo’s life (note the “z” instead of “s” in the spelling).
 Aside from the normal archeological, ethnographic and art
historical collections they also have a fantastical collection of
stuffed hybrid animals created by Lazzaro Spallanzani, priest and
scientist active at end of the 18th century. Spallanzani was voted
into the Royal Academy of Science in Sweden in 1775 for his
 In 1969 The Red Brigades were formed in Reggio Emilia by Renato
Curcio and Roberto Franceschini. Political violence was to dominate
Italy over the next fifteen years including kidnappings, murder and
bomb attacks. The victims were politicians, lawyers and journalists,
as well as the relatives of their opponents. Certain attacks blamed
on The Red Brigades were actually committed by fascist terror groups
such as Ordine Nuovo, Avanguardia Nazionale and Fronte Nazionale.
Right- and leftwing violence became confused and in the end The Red
Brigades turned their attacks on PCI, the communist party who they
saw as a bunch of traitors.
The Red Army Faction (the Baader-Meinhof Group) in Germany had about
twenty members. The Red Brigades had several thousand as well as
strong support from the left. The extent and effects of the violence
was much greater in Italy than in Germany. Despite this, the Italian
history of this violence has been repressed and treated with
collective amnesia. This is the case both here and in the rest of
 From Anagrafe Reggio Emilia, 2010.
 Krzysztof Pomain, Collectors and Curiosities, Polity Press 1990,
p. 5 and 30.
 See e.g. Roger Cardinal, “Collecting and Collage-making––The
Case of Kurt Schwitters”, in The Cultures of Collecting, p. 71.
 Michael Renov, The Subject of Documentary, The University of
Minnesota Press 2004, p. 75.