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Brexit and empire: a long-term view

Can a long-term and comparative understanding of the nature of imperial identities shed light on some of the dynamics behind Brexit? The ways in which empires – and their collapse – transform their central regions as much as the colonies constitute a significant part of the story, argues Andrew Gardner, summarising an article recently published in the Journal of Social Archaeology.
Andrew Gardner (Institute of Archaeology)
20 February 2017

Starts: Feb 20, 2017 12:00:00 AM

The government's Brexit white paper: a missed opportunity

Nicholas Wright from the UCL School of Public Policy analyses the government's recent White Paper on Brexit.
Nicholas Wright (SPP)
17 February 2017

Starts: Feb 17, 2017 12:00:00 AM

The process of Brexit: What comes next?

In a new report published jointly by the UCL Constitution Unit and the UCL European Institute, Alan Renwick,  Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit, examines what the process of Brexit is likely to look like over the coming weeks, months, and years. Here he summarises five key lessons.
Alan Renwick (Constitution Unit)
8 February 2017

Starts: Feb 1, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Illuminations - The Films of Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi

Publication date: Oct 10, 2011 11:15 AM

Start: Nov 21, 2011 12:00 AM

21 November 2011, 6.30pm

Venue: Italian Cultural Institute in London
39 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8NX



The European Institute is collaborating with the Italian Cultural Institute in London to screen three key films by Italian filmmakers Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi.

The filmmakers were hailed for their pioneering work in the 2009 retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA):

the filmmakers

“The Italian filmmaking team of Angela Ricci Lucchi and Yervant Gianikian burst onto the film scene in 1986 with their landmark experimental work From the Pole to the Equator. This startling work placed them at the forefront of the documentary film movement and introduced what would become recurrent themes in their work: peace and war, imperialism, and the exploitation of the underprivileged. The pair's signature style often involves the manipulation of archival footage through re-photographing, selectively hand-tinting, and altering film speed to produce a final work of a distinctly otherworldly quality.”

The screening at the Italian Cultural Institute complements a programme dedicated to the work as whole at Tate Modern in November 2011

Discussion and Book Launch

book cover

The filmmakers themselves will be present at the screening.They will introduce and discuss their work with cultural historian Robert Lumley, co-curator of the Tate programme of films and Professor of Italian Cultural History at UCL. Robert Lumley is also the author of the recently published book Entering the Frame: Cinema and History in the Films of Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, which will be presented as part of the event. Also in discussion will be Robert Gordon, Professor of Italian at Cambridge University and author of, among other books, Primo Levi's Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2001).


The event is free of charge but registration is required. Please book your place HERE.

Films screened at the Italian Cultural Institute:

Lo specchio di Diana (The Looking Glass of Diana)
1996, video, colour, soundtrack by Keith Ullrich, 31’


The title of this film refers to the lake at Nemi outside Rome, a place sacred to the goddess Diana. The notorious emperor Caligula kept huge pleasure galleys here for recreation. When archeologists drained the lake and reconstructed the vessels during the Fascist period, Mussolini himself paid a special visit. The documentary footage of the events is re-worked by Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi against the grain of the original propaganda message in which the glories of ancient Rome and the glories of Mussolini’s empire were presented as continuous. The second part, using original film of the campaign in Tripoli in 1926, underlines the ruthless militarism of the regime.  The images are accompanied by the haunting minimalist sound track composed by Keith Ullrich.

Animali criminali (Criminal Animals)
1994, 16mm, colour, silent, 7’


The idea of ‘criminal animals’ is drawn from the writings of Cesare Lombroso, the criminologist who is the subject of one of Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi’s early ‘scented films’ - Cesare Lombroso. Sull’odore del garofano (Cesare Lombroso. On the Scent of Carnation, 1976). In a series of tableaux vivants, drawn from old film footage, animals are placed one in front of another to illustrate how in Nature every relationship is essentially between hunter and prey, life and death, in a ferocious struggle for existence. For Lombroso, human society, like Nature, is organised on the principle of the survival of the fittest.. This short exemplifies the way that Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi’s films use human attitudes towards and treatment of animals as a metaphor for how life and death are understood in society.


Mario Giacomelli: Contacts
1993, 35mm, black and white, 13’

Unedited footage of the Italian photographer Mario Giacomelli. Mario Giacomelli came from an impoverished family. He started out as a Sunday painter, and by the late 1950s had become Italy's foremost photographer. His work focuses on the themes of fate, old age and death, and man and the earth.


The Filmmakers:

Yervant Gianikian, born in Italy in 1942 of Armenian origin, studied architecture in Venice. Angela Ricci-Lucchi, born in 1942 in Lugo di Romagna, studied painting in Austria with Oskar Kokoschka. Living in Milan, they have worked with film since the mid-seventies, firstly making scented films, and then re-working the old films in their collection that they tinted, toned and re-edited. Their oeuvre now consists of over 40 films of different lengths. Their most recent short work, Notes sur nos voyages en Russie 1989 – 1990, was included in this year’s Venice Film Festival.

In discussion with:

Robert Lumley is Professor of Italian Cultural History at UCL. His new book on the filmmakers Entering the Frame: Cinema and History in the Films of Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi (Peter Lang, 2011) is being presented as part of the event. Robert Gordon is Professor of Italian at Cambridge University and author of, among other books, Primo Levi's Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2001).

At Tate Modern:

Tate Modern’s programme (17 November – 28 November) curated by Stuart Comer and Robert Lumley is dedicated to the work of Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi. It provides further evidence of international recognition and a wonderful opportunity to see a survey of films of rare beauty and integrity. It includes films such as the celebration of silent cinema Karagoez – Catalogo 9.5 (Karagoez – Catalogue 9.5mm, 1979-81) in which the spectator is shuttled between genres and countries, periods of history, black and white and tinted images, and the dark trilogy of films on the First World War made between 1995 and 2004- Prigionieri della guerra (Prisoners of the War), Su tutte le vette è pace (On the Heights All is Peace), and Oh! Uomo (Oh! Mankind). 

Full details on the dedicated Tate Modern webpage.