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ADS2: Black Horizons – Worlding within the Ruins of Racial Capitalism

Francesca Paola Beltrame

Francesca is a spatial practitioner based in Rome and London, whose work lies on the crossroads of architecture and art. Her practice is research-led and focuses on the potential of addressing governmental policies and unpacking conflicts through architecture and performance. Her work is driven by media experimentation and draws inspiration from the concept of political ecologies to understand contemporary landscapes and human conditions.

In 2019, Francesca graduated with a BSc in Architecture from the University of Bath and worked for one year at Foster+Partners in London before joining the Royal College of Art MA Architecture programme. Prior to that she has collaborated on projects at Husos Arquitectos in Madrid and Aim architecture in Shanghai.

Pomo d’orographies: counter-agronomies of exploitation

Colonial, migration and trade routes are cyphered in the figure of the tomato, all while representing a strong signifier of Italian culture. Today, its consumption and production echo a colonial hangover in the Italian agricultural landscape. These processes all share the notion of inscription on different scales and temporalities. I want to put forward a decolonial and feminist approach to speaking about space and policies.

The connection between migration and trade along the path of tomatoes between Italy and Ghana is revealing of the violence of supply chain capitalism. Where a vicious cycle takes place: tomatoes picked under exploitative circumstances by also Ghanian migrants are then canned and shipped back to Ghana. As a consequence of capitalist agriculture, border and migration policies, in Puglia (south-east of Italy) migrant workers (the majority originally from West, East Africa and Eastern Europe) are taken advantage of by mafia organizations because of their immigration status. Migrant seasonal farm workers communities in Italy are made invisible by being kept in constant mobility. Most live in self-arranged settlements referred to as "ghettoes" because segregated from the cities and in the middle of fields. There is a lack of mediation between the migrant communities and white Italian society aggravating social inequalities and sustaining a gap between what we eat and pride and how it gets on our plate. These "ghettoes" don't have appropriate kitchens, further negating a right to domesticity and feeling at home. Space and architecture are weaponized against these communities. Finally, monocultures of tomato exacerbate soils and reduce seed biodiversity.

Diritti a Sud

I have been in conversation with the association Diritti a Sud based in Nardò, Puglia. Their work ranges from being a legal help desk, workers union and independent agricultural producers in the region. In the public space, they focus on making visible and supporting the migrant communities while countering the exploitative agricultural system in place and the hegemony of large distribution though agro-ecological and social projects.

The table cloth as design practice

During my research I have been using my grandmother's table as a design practice. I have carried it with me hosting various workshops: visiting the association and people involved in the production of tomatoes in Italy and Ghana. I have used it as a tool to talk about policy by levelling out the playing field and inviting people to its space outside of official institutions of decision making. Through the practice of embroidery - my table cloth transformed from being a tool for conversation to also being the subject of it. The same way, using my agency as an architect I propose the architecture to carry and foster the history of these exchanges though the embroidery of recipes messages and stains on the fabrics hanging from a temporary structure that takes over the central square of Nardò to claim space for conversation and negotiations between inhabitants of the area over the sharing of food.

Trans-epistemic cosmogram“I find it quite pleasant to pass from one atmosphere to another through crossing a border. We need to put an end to the idea of a border that defends and prevents. Borders must be permeable; they must not be weapons against migration or immigration processes.” - Edouard Glissant, in One World in Relation, film by Manthia Diawara
Tomato dinnerThe initial inscriptions on the table cloth were made during the dinner I hosted in London. The guests were invited to bring a tomato base dish from their country as a way to map the colonial routes of the fruit through recipes. These first marks on the cloth were then instrumental in easing mediation in meetings and workshops that came after. They became the first layer of stories put forward on the history of the table cloth.
Recipes and PoliciesThis short film was shot in Ghana during our ADS2 Trip. Cooking with Lauren-Loïs and her Aunties, we found out how Italian tomato paste starts appearing in the recipe of Jollof rice around the year 2000. Therefore reflecting on the potential and scale of cooking collectively as a way to reveal spatially the connection of the domestic space to the political.
Tomato dyesThe dye bath with tomato concentrate gave the yarn the most colour. I then used the different yarn colours to indicate if the dish (embroidered outline on the table cloth) contained either fresh, canned or tomato paste.

On my table cloth, I revisited the notion of inscription through the practice of embroidery by archiving testimonies on its surface. The table cloth is an object in collective and continuous making - an alive document as opposed to a policy.


drawing, film, performance, conversation
Nardò, Puglia. Meeting with Diritti A Sud
My intervention proposes to rethink domesticity, relation and inscription on a town level by situating a series of interventions around and in the central square of Nardò, that operate on various temporalities. The aim of the architecture is to create space for dialogue and exchange which is lacking at the moment. The architectural intervention is an escalated version of my table cloth at an urban scale.
Carolina teaching me embroidery and sharing with me the story of her table cloth.

The architectural intervention comprises of a permanent intervention: the conversion of a restaurant facing the square into a permanent communal kitchen for migrant and the tourism center into a Seed exchange. Finally, permanent pavement modification in the middle of the square to host the second mode of occupation: a temporal communal kitchen for monthly events hosted by the association and the town hall where everyone is invited to cook a meal with the surplus agricultural produce in season.

Policies, agriculture and borders are inscriptions on people and land. My proposal mobilizes the notion of inscription to re-signify it to foster material, cultural and social exchanges rather than defining people.

Over time, the central square becomes an alternative space for negotiation and self-governance outside of official and exclusionary institutions of governance. Where everyone is invited in the conversation on agricultural practices and labour conditions of the area, to discuss other ways of organising.


film, conversation, drawing
Huge thank you to Auntie Araba, Ramsey and Collin, for sharing seeds, their experience and knowledge on the local seed cultures in Cape Coast, Ghana. Thank you to Ilaria, Umberto and Federico for exchanging and teaching me the importance of seed exchange, how to replant and store heirloom seeds.
My table clothfebruary 2022 - present

Special thank you to my ADS2 tutors Ibiye Camp, Dele Adeyemo and Dámaso Randulfe and my personal tutor Dubravka Sekulic for the support and navigating me through my ideas.

Huge thank you to all the people who have engaged in conversation, contributed and collaborated on the project:

Paola, Rosa, Musse and Abdullah from Diritti a Sud.

ADS2 and their mothers for the recipes.

Lauren-Loïs and her family: Auntie Felicia, Auntie Akosue, Auntie Gina, Mr. Oppong.

Auntie Araba, Ramsey and Collin.

Ambassador Daniela D’Orlandi.

My Grandmother Francesca Paola, Zia Ilaria, Umberto, Federico and Carolina.