The most significant actions of early societies were performed and then literally translated as symbols onto objects of daily or ritual use, creating both an ephemeral and lasting narrative. These symbols and performed actions were part of a belief system that brought joy and hope to often perilous situations. Jessica Smarsch explores the negotiation between performance and symbolism from a historical and contemporary perspective.
In the silence of a winter night, I can hear the wind whistling through a slight vent of my window. I approach curiously. Steam of a shower slowly fades into the room. Returning from a chase of a ball is another occasion of a day that meticulously and forcibly tears one off from the time spent between the commitments that often choke the day. The journey remains more or less the same every day, as does the pleasant feeling of calmness that spontaneously arises within at the sight of the Cruyff Court 1. I close my eyes. Indelible memories of long afternoons spent on the streets until late materialize in my mind. The mind is projected onto the centre of a green rectangle, and rejects the reality of thick layers of dust that crossing trajectories of moving bodies raise from an uneven ground. The cloud of dust only settles at nightfall, when voices fade further towards their homes, already arranging an assemblage for the day after. Time remains the same, as does the place.
In the centre of the Mediterranean
Football pitches of our childhood stretch beyond barriers imposed by their urban context. The boundaries were only limited by our imagination; mental rather than physical. Fictional authority of the cold seasons is unable to halt the descent of the kids flowing on the streets like rivers.
A countryman writer 2 who I highly admire has defined our city as a geographical city. Naples. Its character is derived from its place, from the particular geography that has contributed to impress those who have grown up on the streets of the city; its lightheartedness expressed through tiny touches of a leather ball. Not caring about an uncertain future even if only for a few hours becomes a rare and often underestimated matter in the adulthood. Nevertheless, we all know the secret. The only way is to go back to look at the world through a different lens. It’s a matter of perspective.
A game of suburbs
It is only by looking beyond the purely financial aspect, beyond the billions, beyond purchases and exorbitant salaries that a true soul can be glanced at. The pure soul that is evoked in the world’s suburbs through happily juggling youngsters; in dense groups of youths in which the most diverse social provenance is bound by the only common denominator. Football is foremost a social manifestation. It is a need of aggregation that goes straight to the essence of mankind; a universal language composed of sounds and chants rather than words that can be attributable to any known alphabet. For this reason it equates the diverse and far cultures of populations that dwell this world. Football is passion. Intense love at first sight. It is, in a form of support for the colours of a football shirt, among the highest celebrations of a profound sense of belonging to a place that has indissolubly characterized the roots of our identity.
It is not hard to imagine that for those born in Naples in the second half of the eighties, it was an enormous misfortune to be too young to remember the moments we could admire him playing football. The Argentine, Diego Armando. Yet is his name strongly imprinted the memory of an entire population. Maradona was not only an extraordinary athlete, but he was their like, and elected as a symbol of their city for that reason. In the decade, Naples reached the top of the bel paese 3 twice for its football. Spotlights lit Fuorigrotta 4 . The temple of boundless talent and an emblem of redemption of a city was proudly re-launching itself in the eyes of the country.
At the feet of the volcano
I have only a few blurred memories of S.S.C. Napoli, which I admired as a child at the stadium. It was already post-Maradona. I have experienced and better comprehended the San Paolo stadium as a young adult. During the years that preceded my departure towards the north of Europe, I frequented it assiduously, mirrored myself in it, and appropriated it through the chants sung at the top of my lungs until making my tonsils burn for days to come. I have felt the stadium within me as earthquakes that shake the soul rather than the body. It happens all of a sudden. Enormous explosions of happiness that took place between 9th of November 1986 and 10th of May 1987, and spread out in a capillary manner in every corner of the city, not only reached the minds of those who were living in the territory. I’m convinced that they expanded until reaching those like myself, who were only about to see the light for the first time.
I open my eyes. In the meantime, the whistle of the wind has intensified. It brings along fragments of sounds of a celebrating city. I can recognize the dialect until the point I perceive its image. Driven by the desire to let it soak into the walls, I throw the window open. Suddenly everything fades away along with a sound of a car moving further away on the street. Thus, smiling, I return to appreciate the silence of my room.__
February 2016 | Eindhoven.
Figli del Vesuvio was triggered by a photo Corradino Garofalo took while walking with his mother in Naples in 2014.
Corradino Garofalo is a designer currently living and working in the Netherlands. With a background in industrial design, his practice explores the relation between individual and society with particular interest in exploring the role artefacts play in characterizing human relations and interactions within social groups. Garofalo’s fascination for film, photography, video projections and video installations has led him to a multidisciplinary approach towards design. He is a co-founder of audio-visual collective Samples Lab and Fictional Collective . Garofalo holds a Master of Design degree in Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven.