goto menu

Contemporary Art

It is said that the Carnival in Naples is more dangerous than a Twin Peaks episode. Not because you risk your life, but because ti fanno nuovo nuovo (you become unrecognisable). That expression describes the situation that occurs when you go to have a walk around the city, and you go back home all covered by flour/eggs/oranges/shaving foam/all of them together, the principal ingredients that compose the evil kit of an urban assault.

As you may know, an Italian proverb says “during carnival every joke counts”, so the kids take advantage of it, to have fun at the expense of the unlucky people that pass by, who in that occasion probably miss the Christmas they’ve always hated before.

Something nobody really knows is what happens before Carnival comes. It’s about a ritual that is celebrated every year to let the show begin. Some of the actors are a saint, a bonfire, and the month of January. This year there’s an additional element, which is a video camera, belonging to cyop&kaf, a Neapolitan duo that brought “Il segreto” (the secret) about this tradition on the big screens of the TFF (Torino Film Festival).

 The secret is in the Spanish Quarters, where there’s a courtyard with a hiding spot on the inside. It’s in this place where the kids that compose Checco Lecco’s gang bring all the used Christmas trees they can grab, after New Year’s, anywhere it’s possible to find them. In the quarters of Cavone, Santa Lucia, Monte di Dio. In the hotels and restaurants, through the trash bins. What counts is fare gli alberi (collecting the trees). Do it fast, before the others do it, and do it without being busted. And so they run, they seek, they jump. They ride a scooter, three of them at a time and the spruce too. They climb over walls and climb on the poles with the agility of a mountain climber.

 Collecting the trees becomes an epic venture, a matter of life or mazziate (beatings), that the video camera follows without betraying itself, nor them. The viewer doesn’t perceive its presence. The directors are capable to be part in this venture and to keep the audience’s eyes on the screen, curious to know what’s going to happen, as the woman at the window is. Even if you read the synopsis and you know what the final purpose is, you may not believe it or be so sure about it. Those kids are unpredictable and tireless, like their city. They’re from ten to fourteen years old, but are already too grownup for their age. They feel like they’re the owners of a world that they know inside out, and that world is the place they want to feel free in and where they release themselves, fomenting the wait and following just their rules.

 Luckily, this time we don’t find on the screen a predictable stereotyped vision of a complex, problematic and damaged reality. Cyop&kaf know what they’re doing. They don’t embellish nor pretend. In that city they live and they paint, for years now, and they do it creating and conversing with its inhabitants. This let them make a documentary that lets us listen the city through its real voice, see it under thousands of chaotic and impudent eyes, recognize it in its porous and visceral substance, in its rough and real colours, in the fear that crosses it, in the places that belong to everybody and nobody at the same time.

 Cyop&kaf gave us a new point of view, direct, clean, close to the kids’ one, hiding in the dark alleys even when the sun’s up, or under the street lights at night. In a courtyard born on the ruins left by an earthquake and where the people have waited for something else to be built, in vain.

Now, leave Christmas behind and as soon as the occasion comes, go and find out this secret.