“Il Danteum.” Installation. Richard L. Nelson Gallery, U.C. Davis, Davis, California. 1986. Kala Institute, Berkeley, California. 1986. The image is of the central feature of the installation that was a 17 x 17’steel parterre, raised 3 inches from the floor with a recorded sound element of a woman’s voice pacing beneath the structure. The steel garden was an imaginary public work that was created for a building that was never built commemorating Mussolini’s rise to power. Fashioned after Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” the building leads pilgrims through Hell, to Purgatory and eventually to the great Hall of the Spirit where an emblem of Mussolini and the Fascist State hovered about all who would enter.
This piece was created as a response to the political and cultural climate in America during the Reagan administration. Political and religious leaders used AIDS as a weapon to further oppress the LGBT community. This perverse joining of the Religious Right and the Republican Party created an atmosphere echoes in the imaginary space and time of this never completed project, Il Danteum.