Asmara: Africa's Secret Modernist City (Anglais) Broché – 23 octobre 2006
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I applaud the authors for helping to preserve Eritrea's architectural treasures, which stand as a true gem compared with the rest of the African continent. Outlined in the book are those that were spared from the marauding British and greedy Ethiopian invaders and withstood decades of war.
With the institutionalization of genocide studies, the development of curriculum on the powerful ideas of modernity, national myth, the power of a carefully-developed aesthetic for propaganda, spectacle, crowd control to inspire people to buy into a modernist national myth becomes imperative.
Frederic Spotts, in "Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics", pinned down the long-rumored connection between fascist aesthetics and rock concerts. He documented the fact that David Bowie and Mick Jagger both spent hours watching Leni Riefenstahl's masterpiece of Hitler propaganda, "Triumph of the Will". The thought of Jagger and Bowie as manipulators of a fascist aesthetic rather than the alleged revolution they've been singing about all these years should give every fan of rock concert production food for thought. Under my thumb, girl. There's a PhD. thesis to be written comparing rock concert production effects with those carefully laid out by Albert Speer for the Nuremberg rally, which is the subject of Riefenstahl's movie.
Asmara was Mussolini's planned city, his expression of modernism in his newly-acquired African colony. It is a most beautiful city, and takes its place with the publication of this excellent book as perhaps the most ambitious expression of the totalitarian ethic. Compared to Soviet modernism or Hitler kitsch, Asmara stands for Italian superiority in architecture unchanged since the Romans.
As a planned city for Africa, Asmara is also a major site for post-colonial or subaltern studies. How Italian fascism was to educate, control and colonize Africans with the beauty of Asmara was a message consciously implanted in every cantilevered roof and enlightened street grid by the fascists. So this book takes its stand with two other revolutionary studies of colonial and post-colonial architecture, Okwui Enwezor's "The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa", which documents architectural plans for European planned cities in Africa, and, "The Politics of Design in French Colonial Architecture" by Gwendolyn Wright. The idea that modernity itself is a thrusting, crushing colonial -- and in the case of Asmara, fascist -- power is a message this beautiful book, this beautiful city, and the beauty of Africa on her own, gives, unforgettably.
Looking through the pages of this book brought back great memories of my time in Asmara. I was able to view the dedicated work of the Cultural Assets Rehabilitation Project (CARP) in the inner, historical quarter of the city. To see these old buildings come back to life was a joy to behold; especially the devotion to restoring the buildings authentically.
Anyone who has visited this timeless city will be captivated by the journey through the pages of this book. Originally aimed at people in the architectural business, the book reaches out to any reader with its photographic portrayal of one of the world's unique cities.
An extremely well researched and written book; the authors have devoted a great deal of time into their research with getting every aspect of Asmara's development history correct. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and commend it to anyone who has ever visited Asmara. Ane Asmara yefetwa eyee.