Dawit L. Petros: Prospetto a Mare

Dawit L. Petros, Istruzioni (Transits, Trajectories, Invisible Networks), Part III, 2021-2023. Courtesy of the artist.

About the Exhibition

Nestled in a green space between Soldier Field and Lake Michigan, the often-forgotten Balbo Monument was gifted to the city of Chicago by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to commemorate controversial air marshal Italo Balbo’s 1933 transatlantic flight from Italy to Chicago during the city’s World’s Fair. Prospetto a Mare is the latest chapter of Eritrea-born artist Dawit L. Petros’s long-term investigation of the impact of Italian colonialism and its subsequent imprint on the visual cultures, populations and built environments of Africa, Europe and North America. With particular attention to Chicago’s buried links to Italian colonialism, Petros probes the propaganda used to promote Italy’s colonial projects in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Libya, and by extension, the newly formed Italian state; the (aerial) technologies used to dominate occupied countries and simultaneously extol the power of the occupiers; and the imperfect ways in which these histories are inscribed in public and private memory through monuments, storytelling, archives, and photography. By incisively deconstructing established narratives of culture, migration, and power, Prospetto a Mare reminds us that the tendrils of the past reach into the present, emphasizing that history remains unfixed and unfinished.

Curated by Karen Irvine, MoCP’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director.

Visual artist and researcher Dawit L. Petros is currently associate professor in the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Petros completed the Whitney Independent Study Program, an MFA in visual art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, a BFA in photography from Concordia University, and a BA in history from the University of Saskatchewan. A recipient of awards including a Terra Foundation Research Fellowship, the Paul De Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award for Art Photography and a Fulbright Fellowship, Petros’s multidisciplinary work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, London; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City; and the Bamako Biennale, Mali, among other venues.

Prospetto a Mare is part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art exploring and elevating Chicago’s rich art and design histories and diverse creative communities.

Prospetto a Mare is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art part of Art Design Chicago.

Prospetto a Mare is also funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The publication Prospetto a Mare (Mousse Publishing, Italy) is supported in part by the Art Gallery of Guelph.

MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2023–2024 exhibition season is sponsored in part by the Comer Family Foundation, Efroymson Family Fund, Henry Nias Foundation, Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, and Pritzker Traubert Foundation. This project is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and a CityArts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. 

More Information