Biennale Architettura 2016  Collateral Event

ERGO SUM by Valerio Polici
I structured my photographic project between Europe and Argentina over the past five years. I have attempts to report on this community, examining the growing fascination young people have for this activity. It is no longer exclusive to the poorer classes as it was when it made its debut in the ghettos of New York, but is an instrument of escapism and “liberation” for everyone.

Even though it is considered, quite rightly, to be a sort of minor crime, “graffitism” is a movement expressed through dynamics that are very similar to those observed in organized crime.

Its micro-world encloses a networking system that is extremely complex and highly organized; there are codes, clashes between rival groups, a battle for supremacy, the challenge to authorities.

Given that the relativity of the damage that this type of crime produces compared to other forms of criminal activity, deeper, more detailed examination of the subject is essential and must be free from overwhelming sensationalism because frequently this small-scale parallel universe acts as a container for anger and, if this is badly managed, it will almost certainly lead to greater crimes.

The importance of the research project for GANGCITY slides perfectly into this context, offering interesting thought orientations.

Gang of Los Angeles by Walter Leonardi

"In 1991 I was in Los Angeles and I made contact with someone who gained me access to East Los Angeles to photograph the Geraghty Loma gang, among the oldest and most violent in the city, based in the district called Mexican Alps".

"That year, in East Los Angeles, the film director Edward James Olmos produced the famous gangland film “American me” with input from many members of the gangs".

"He introduced me to another young gang leader who told me about the life of his companions, the murals and the tattoos chosen by the young people, the glue they sniffed like a drug...".

"He introduced me to the children who were loved but whose fate was sealed, the famous "Eddie Heredia Boxing Club", that is still one of the few facilities to give these youngsters the chance to get off the streets".

"... Sometime later, I found out that three of the consultants for “American me” had been murdered by the Mexican Mafia who did not like the film".

The Hell of Scampia by Salvatore Esposito
"When you approach a job in the inner city areas, everything around you feels hard and hostile - the people and the buildings that house them". 

In Scampia, the architecture lords over the population, with the Vele di Scampia (the instantly recognizable sail-like buildings) and the tall repetitive tower blocks adding nothing of beauty to the urban décor but simply blight the territory.

The work of Salvatore Esposito with the young drug dealers lasted several years. It is not easy to come into contact with such hard lives.

"You collide with a social class that has every type of problem and above all, the State has left it to its own devices in a location that was designed as a facility where they could be clustered and abandoned".

Our happiness is determined by what we are and by where we live.

Our eyes should feast on the beauty of the surrounding landscape. So how would it be possible to find happiness among these concrete monstrosities?

Gangs of Latin America by Donna De Cesare

The teenagers and children in my photographs from the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia are growing up in social landscapes hollowed out by poverty, violence and official neglect.

Each location has its own specific history of migration and abandonment.

Whether the uprooting begins in rural zones in response to civil war or economic deprivation, the displaced still try to care for one another in the makeshift urban spaces where they seek refuge.

Gangs and illegal armed groups gain ground when the illicit economy promises a lifeline out of poverty and criminal ruthlessness combined with state weakness or collusion foments impunity and fear that corrode social trust.

What then do these photographs offer or ask of us? As acts of witness they urge us to look beyond our fears and ourselves.

The Naples of the historical facts of the Camorra and Albania's visions by Francesco Cito 

"I lived in England for many years, far away from my beloved Naples. But like a fatal attraction, I always went back – not to embrace a dying lover, or rekindle the fading memories, but to return to tell the world about the countless headline stories, everyday news".

"Since then, other events, other episodes have been published in the international and national news magazines. I had a different lover each time, a lover dressed in black or a lover in a state of permanent mourning, no longer represented in a postcard from ‘pino and Vesuvius’, no longer Neapolis".

"The reality of the city of Naples was not based on myths but earthquakes; Scampia; the Camorra; law suits; and then the Neapolitan Wedding providing as a moment of relief".

"Albania, in the aftermath of the dictatorship led by Enver Hoxha, presented itself to me in all of its crazy isolation, just after I disembarked in the port of Valona at the beginning of the 90s; however, nothing had prepared me for its archaic aspects, that were confirmed years later, when I started taking an interest in the Kanun Code".

"How many years was of little consequence as no male member of the family would ever be immune to the vendetta, even now that Albania is no longer isolated from the rest of the world".

Tragic Palermo by Letizia Battaglia

"The teenagers and children in my photographs from the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia are growing up in social landscapes hollowed out by poverty, violence and official neglect".

"Each location has its own specific history of migration and abandonment".

"Whether the uprooting begins in rural zones in response to civil war or economic deprivation, the displaced still try to care for one another in the makeshift urban spaces where they seek refuge”.

“What then do these photographs offer or ask of us? As acts of witness they urge us to look beyond our fears and ourselves. If a photograph pierces the heart, it may also unbind us from terror that fetters the mind. Understanding takes us to the crossroad where resilience and solidarity meet. There we face an open door”.

Credits: Story

Gangcity is a research program sponsored by the DIST (Interuniversity Department of the Turin Polytechnic and University) and edited by Fabio Armao, Professor of Politics and Globalization processes.

Thanks to the photographers: Valerio Polici, Walter Leonardi, Salvatore Esposito, Donna De Cesare, Francesco Cito, Letizia Battaglia.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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