Piazza Ciro Esposito (former Piazza dei Grandi Eventi) in the heart of Scampia had long been an inhospitable concrete desert, avoided by inhabitants of Naples’ northern periphery. In years of collective activities the Centro Territoriale Mammut, together with local residents, succeeded to make the piazza a livable and vivid space, venue for Hip Hop jams, anti-racist soccer tournaments, children’s treasure hunts, all kinds of spontaneous celebrations, weekly break-dance sessions and many more. Thereby, the piazza has become also a laboratory of pedagogy in public space and popular education as a means of social transformation.
But in times of austerity politics and reinvigorating fascist tendencies, progressive accomplishments are always contested and need to be constantly reappropriated. Thus, in early 2020, we decided to make a mark and paint a collective mural at the columns of the piazza. The mural tells the very story of the Centro Territoriale, represented as a small Mammut – Mammuttino. The Mammuttinos journey implies moments of collectivity and friendship; joyful activities like sports, arts, carneval celebrations; encounters with companion – actual Scmapia personages like Mirella La Magna, Mister Piccolo, Emma Ferulano, a.o.; but the itinerary also includes moments that mark urban peripheries’ everyday life – lack of public transport, street violence; the Mammuttino concludes its journey resting under a starry sky, indicating the continuation of this struggle for livable peripheries, for public space as a citizens space fo encounter, of learning, collective engagement for a open society. As our longyear friend and comrade Chiara Ciccarelli states in her comment on this mural:
“This murales is the result of a common thought and action carried out for years by people from different experiences and contexts, united by the desire and need to recover places and sociality through art, culture, education, doing and being together.
Aggregation, mixing different cultures, care and love for public spaces and people, are fundamental political tools for the transformation of society and the world in which we live. Education, research, active participation of citizens are means of revolution and liberation.
The city must be redesigned and rethought according to the needs and desires of those who live in it.
The Mammuttino, protagonist of the murales, like Scampia and like all the suburbs of the world, needs to travel, to research, to discover, to love, to exchange, it needs art, music, theatre, culture, to give space to curiosity and personal talents.
It needs to look beyond and jump over borders!!”
This collective process was also enriched by the attentive and engaged presence of a group of Hamburg based geography students, conducting action research within the process. One of the results of their partecipation is the documentation of the collective painting in the below video, Camera Cut by Giorgia Simoniti, Music by Giuseppe ‘oStran Capasso and Andrea Prota.