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AUTHORS: Anna Lisa Tota
ABSTRACT: Following the perspective of cultural trauma theorists, this article focuses on the public memory of Italy’s recent past, specifically the period of the so-called strategy of tension, a still very obscure time in the country’s recent history and which includes the terrorist attacks that took place from 1969 to 1993 in several Italian cities. When “State Terror” occurred in Italy, access to legal and political arenas was systematically denied and the cultural trauma process could be performed only in aesthetic arenas. This article focuses on the role played by the cinema and other cultural artefacts in producing an “aesthetic truth” of Italy’s recent past. By analysing the main features of the artistic and cultural representation of this past, the status of this “truth” is questioned and compared to that produced for example in the legal arena. When narrating the past, it is difficult for movies (and the same can be argued for other cultural artefacts) to achieve the quality standards of historical narration. When they narrate the past, they can remain a “second best” option. In the Italian case a very interesting trend can be noted: public knowledge of highly controversial events is often narrated using fiction. “Fiction” (more than a documentary film) seems to create the conditions that make possible the public communication of what all the citizens know but no one has proof to document. On 14 November 1974, Pier Paolo Pasolini, an Italian intellectual, published a long article under the headline “What is this coup d’état? I know” in Corriere della Sera, a leading newspaper in Italy. Probably Pasolini was murdered because of that article: he died on 2 November 1975. In that article he wrote about the strategy of tension in Italy and he said: “I know, but I have no proof”. In Italy, many citizens, many intellectuals, many artists know, but they still have no proof. For this reason they can narrate the recent past of the country only by using fiction and theatrical performance. Will the aesthetisation of the recent past remain the only way to carry out the trauma process in Italian society?