"When Naples was one of the most illustrious capitals in Europe, one of the greatest cities in the world, it contained a bit of everything. It contained a bit of London, a bit of Paris, a bit of Madrid, a bit of Vienna – it was a microcosm of Europe. Now that it is in its decline nothing is left in it but Naples. What do you expect to find in London, Paris, Vienna? You will find Naples. It is the fate of Europe to become Naples.” 1
In a scenario dominated by the closure of national borders, by racial fear and suspicion, by cultural and sexual prejudices, SAGG NAPOLI's research questions the concepts of productivity, self-control and achievement, as well as those of cultural inferiorization, subordination, subjectification, hierarchy and becoming. Her practice can be seen as a process aimed at dismantling the structures of oppression that govern the way in which marginal bodies are perceived in relation/opposition to a north-centric ideal. The body, the clothing, the ornaments, the attitudes of SAGG NAPOLI become a tool for personal and political fight. Peripheral body becomes a space of resistance, characterized by that segregated culture of opposition which is the critical response to domination. It is from the margin that the dominant norms are questioned, threatened by the material practices of the body.
“To be the margin is to be part of the whole but outside the main body.” 2
SAGG NAPOLI operates through a cartography simultaneously contracted and extended, which transforms the South from a subordinate object, silenced by a progress unilaterally proposed, into an active critical force. Her work manages to undermine the legacy of an heritage that for several centuries has stifled the South in a series of stereotypes and inventions that deny the asymmetric power relationships that translate historical and political processes into geographical relations, creating several South completely submissive to the North of the planet. The narration is for the artist a means by which to explore this complex socio-political tangle, its historical-cultural sediments and its geo-political connections. The South becomes the demonstration of a self capable of creating a new critical consciousness of the contemporary world and of the "microphysics of powers" that govern the bodies, the desires and the choices of human beings.
Naples, her hometown, is the starting point of an anthropological tale about domination and struggle, wins and losses, about a "porous city”, capable of absorbing, contaminating and counterfeiting foreign models and impositions. Through a constant practice that mixes critical observation, self-biography and deep involvement, the works on display - inside and outside the space / online and offline - represent a historiographic challenge that connects the "South question" not only to the global South, but also to the critical sense of this present time that produces them and thinks of being able to explain them.
People can view “SAGG NAPOLI” as a brand-like acronym, as a project name or a nickname… It’s up to them. South aesthetics is not just about a place. It is the result of the historical socio-political relationship existing between the north and south of Europe. Throughout history the south has been viewed and represented as popular, almost folkloristic, and therefore dismissed by mainstream cultural production. At the same time, society is intrinsically indebted and drawn to the north, which is seen as representing the future, thanks to its economical strength. But the south is still the place that produces things for northern Europe. This cultural and economical phenomenon generates an aesthetic relationship in which the south mimics cultural production (music, art, architecture and fashion) in the north, yet the south is often what inspired and manufactured this cultural production, and is therefore twice removed from the original source: itself. As a result everything looks a bit outdated, a bit run down, a bit off… The question is: what can we do with it, and can we at least recognize it? This is what I call #southaesthetics. 3
1 Curzio Malaparte, The skin, 1949
2 bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, 1984
3 Sofia Ginevra A. Giannì - SAGG NAPOLI, DRY Magazine, 2018