Rhythm O: Naples, 1974

The extraordinary story of how Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic ‘turned the audience into the performers, instead of the artist’ is explored in this month’s 1843 magazineThe six-hour work in Naples involved Abramovic standing still while the audience was invited to do whatever they wanted to her, using one of objects she had placed on a nearby table:

‘a comb, a lipstick, a rose, a feather…chains, nails, a safety pin, a kitchen knife, a box of razor blades, a whip and a gun’

The evening began gently. Someone stroked her. Another offered her a rose, one a kiss. But as the Neapolitan night began to heat up, things got very dark. Marina said:

‘What I learned was that … if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you … I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation’

More on Rhythm O here and in the artist’s own words here.

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‘A Day to Remember for Ever’

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A fascinating photo essay in the Guardian on how first communion is celebrated in modern Naples, a ceremony which:

is not just a religious sacrament but is experienced as an important rite of passage to be properly celebrated, and a community event with many levels of interpretation and meaning, not just limited to religion.

Photos by Diana Bagnoli.

 

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Capodimonte, the most beautiful park in Italy

OK, Capodimonte won this accolade back in 2015.  But I would still encourage you to take a short walk by 4K video through this huge, rambling, atmospheric, overgrown ex-Royal park on a high hill above Naples. It’s a perfect place to jog, picnic, play with your kids, take a weekend stroll, have a furtive assignation, or walk off a large lunch.

Or better still to find a quiet place for inner reflection, away from the hectic city below.

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The true face of Naples

NaplesLondon-based photographer Sam Gregg, who is particularly interested in ‘marginalised and dispossessed communities‘, has recently published a series of unromantic, unflinchingly honest, and insightful pictures of life in the city titled See Naples and Die.

Predominantly shot in two of the city’s most deprived working class neighbourhoods, the Spanish Quarter and Rione Sanità, Gregg says his photos are:

‘A documentation of the spirit and vibrancy of the people who live in these areas, even in the face of abject adversity. They are fiercely proud of their heritage and emblematic of what it means to be a true Neapolitan’.

A short interview with Sam by the creative website ‘It’s Nice That’ is here.  More about the locals trying to change the public face of Rione Sanità here.

 

Oscar Wilde in Naples

A great post below by e-Tinkerbell on Oscar Wilde’s brief, post-imprisonment sojourn with his lover and downfall Bosie Douglas in Naples, at the time noted as ‘a delightful winter residence for those fond of pleasure and gaiety‘.

Picking the story up where the blog finishes, Wilde stayed in Naples after Bosie left:

‘sitting at the Caffè Gambrinus for an afternoon, hoping that some English tourist would recognize him and be charmed enough to pay for a few drinks. But most of the English in Naples at the time spurned him. A friend asked him if he could imagine spending the rest of his life in Naples. “No,” he replied, “the cooking is really too bad.’

Shunned, deserted, alone, unable to publish his work or find translators, he finally left Naples — a city he perceptively described as both ‘evil and luxurious’ — for Paris where he would die, a penniless social outcast, two years later at the age of 46.

e-Tinkerbell

Many words can be used to describe Oscar Wilde’s genius and personality, but wise is not one of them, to be sure. Having spent two years in jail after having been charged for “gross indecency”, the echoes of the scandal were not over yet, so he decided that Paris would have been a better place to try and start over again. In those months in Paris he could work on his famous “Ballad of Reading Jail”, but the signs of hard labour on his body and the awareness of the terrible humiliation his family had suffered were not enough to make him ignore the reasons of his heart. Against his better judgement, if he had any, Wilde yielded to his desire to see again Lord Alfred Douglas, Bosie, the man who had brought him to a tremendous downfall, so the two decided to spent the winter in Naples…

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