The exhibition Face Fear, at Villa Romana in Florence, revolves around the legacy of public art produced during the fascist regime of Mussolini.
The bronze sculpture Genius of F̶a̶s̶c̶i̶s̶m̶ Sport derives from a statue in Rome of a young male making the Roman salute. Made by Italo Griselli in 1939, it was originally named Genio del Fascismo. After WWII, the statue was altered in an attempt to change its meaning. The title was changed to Genio dello Sport and the statue was given ancient Roman boxing gloves to wear. Genius of F̶a̶s̶c̶i̶s̶m̶ Sport consists of replicas of these gloves.
Memory Games is a series of aerial photographs of people exercising at the Foro Italico, a sports complex in Rome. Originally built as Foro Mussolini, its purpose was to host the Olympic Games in 1940. The entrance to the complex consists of a monumental walkway, with fascist mosaics showing different types of sport. The depictions of athletes are conflated with motifs of mythology, labour, colonial warfare and technological progress. Nowadays, the walkway is a popular location amongst Rome's citizens for exercise.
In the last room of the exhibition a sculpture is placed with its back towards the entrance. It is the figure of a naked boxer, made by Romano Romanelli in 1931. On a closer look, the face bears a strong likeness to Mussolini. Romano Romanelli (1882–1968) was a prominent Italian sculptor who made many public works for the fascist regime. Pugile Ferito [Wounded Boxer] was inspired by the ancient Greek sculpture Boxer at Rest.
Face Fear was developed in the frame of a research fellowship at Villa Romana and the Kunshistorisches Institut Florenz (KHI). It was also supported by the Mondriaan Fund.