Naima Morelli

2022: The Year in Review

How to define this year? I’d say, the first six months were spent living to the fullest, going deep into feeling and emotions, both positive and negative. The second half of the year was spent working blissfully, in alignment, building on the life force that was experienced in the first part of the year. 

With living through so much heightened emotion, my heart was never empty. That included some very tough moments, which taught me that beauty is always the cure. In the hardest moments, when you are called to rise up to the occasion, keep carrying on, emboding a stoicism of sorts, you can still look up and notice how the sky and the earth looked like their were painted by El Greco. An yes, we might not measure up to the challenge – not immediately. We might still feel the urge to run away and not endure it. Not to sacrifice oneself – which in the Latin root of the word means “make sacred”. But we can still do our best to keep practicing what’s right.

The memories remains, as Marianne Faithfull used to sing alongside Metallica. Love is always what remains. As the traces of one’s passage on earth do – be it great invention of a scientist, the great masterpiece of artists, or the colourful sweaters knit with love we might wear every day, which hug us, giving us joy. Reminding us of ultimate unity. Presence beyond the physical form.

And through it all, laughing about one’s own narrative, another lesson from my elders. Love, joy, beauty; the need to extract and cultivate these things around us.

So this year I looked for a sense of renewal and rooting at once, and I found them both. And they both expressed in all the different areas of my life, which – like every year – I look at in detail.

Arts writing and journalism

2022 was definitely the year that put new lifeblood into my work. Right now I have so much of my heart and soul pulsing back into my writing and journalism, and generally into the issues and countries and people I’m writing about. I really feel invested again with a kind of fresh energy similar to the one I had when I first started researching Southeast Asia, but now I have more of a method and a balance with all the other activities in my life. Truly, it feels great.

It all started slow; let’s not forget in Italy at the beginning of the year we were just out of a pandemic cycle, with still so much uncertainty going forward. I kept all the regular collaborations going, Middle East Monitor, Middle East Eye, Al Monitor, Plural Art Mag and others. Sadly CoBo Social folded, and that was kind of the end of an era for me, as I did plenty of work for the magazine since its foundation in 2015.

The social environment around me, as I was working with my computer at the local cafè took a bit over the work at times; it was hard to stay focused. Luckily this changed after the summer, as all energies started aligning, and the cafè became still a pleasurable but productive workplace.

Additionally I saw a handful of very interesting shows in Rome, including Artemisia Gentileschi, Moriyama and Tomastu at MAXXI, Doisneau. 

One highlight was definitely going to Venice for the opening of the Venice Biennale, which proved an incredibly enriching experience, after two years of pandemic and no travel. I made so many new connections and had a window into what the best the international art world had to offer. I made lots of interviews, had tons to write, and scouted the place for the Eddy Susanto exhibition we were preparing that would open in the summer. It felt great to feel immersed in conversations about art, making projects, and hypotheses about how to move next. I felt part of the international art world again.

Then in the summer, we did had the exhibition of Eddy Susanto in Venice. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for sure, but Eddy’s work was great and it was a great honour to take part in such an important project. I learned a lot about curating shows, and the potential that exists in linking Southeast Asia with Venice. 

Then came September, and with it new energies. I started putting my heart and soul into journalism again in a big way. Mostly because I was able to share the progress day by day, fantasize about new trips. The person I did this with was again kind of a muse, ultimately uninterested to go all the way down to the ride. But he ignited my interest, gave me for a while the idea of being able to share this with someone, and got me fantasizing about possible collaborations. 

During this time I deepen my already existing interest in Burma and Burmese artists. This was based on a series of Zoom interviews, but mostly on a trip to Paris, I took during the Paris art week at the end of October, which hosted also the art fairs ASIA NOW and the much-awaited Paris+ Art Basel. Again, it was a blast. I meet wonderful artists, I had those deep conversations I longed for, losing in the sroty of others with my recorder on. I made new friends which brought me into unexpected adventures. And I was challenged: I did two interviews in French! Need to finally learn it properly!

Back home the new research translated into new collaborations, and brought forth existing ones ArtAsiaPacific – writing for them was a goal since I first started – writing for Italian magazines again, Il Manifesto and Internazionale, another big deal for me! But also wrote pieces for the Financial Times and The Art Newspaper… keep an eye for these! Plus I kept consolidating the regular collabs from those magazines I have been working for already for many years.

So what’s next? For starters, a new research trip. I will go again to two countries which I have been to over and over again, Singapore and Indonesia, but I will go there sure to find an art world transformed and re-energised post-pandemic. Burma is still on my mind. I know that the next country I will visit next will be Vietnam, so I’ll keep an eye on that while in Singapore. 

In this regard, I’ll prepare the terrain. I know that two cities I’ll have to get to build ties within Europe, as they are potential bridges with SEA are Venice and Paris. I’m also planning to get to know the Rome art scene a bit better and find the right curator to support me in bringing more SEA to Europe. 

Graphic Novels

If I had one big fat goal in 2022, was definitely to finish one of the most challenging works for me to date, my comic book “Two Suns”. And I made it. Right on time, despite the many interruptions. I wrote already at length of how important it was for me to finish this story that I had in mind for over 10 years – the continuum of my Desire for Victory series, so I won’t rant about this any longer. I would only say that there will be only one last chapter to close the series, but I’m not planning to do this next. I will take a break from the atmosphere of the 1900 Desire for Victory to plunge into a totally different aesthetics. More on this later. 

So with Two Suns, while the drawing and the lettering are done, the publishing part is not done yet. I will self-publish this work with Amazon KDP again in the Spring. Perhaps it will have a French translation too, but I’m not sure about this yet. 

A nice thing that happened at this end of the year is to show some pages from Two Suns in an exhibition in my native Sorrento. In this show, as well as in the process of having Beta readers, sharing about the work whether in person or on social media, I feel I now have more and more people to get feedback on my work. I got great suggestions and tips, which make me think that for my next work I should really shoot for the stars.

So Two Suns was about bringing to fruition one of the longest stories I have ever drawn. Yes, it is shorter in terms of pages than the previous work The Mighty Hour, but definitely so much denser.

For Via Del Pigneto, the new comic book, I’ll take a different route. I will do a shorter work but with the intention to do my very very best on each page, to really puting myself on the line every single time I sit at the drawing board. It’s not about mileage anymore. I think I more than proved to be able to do this. It will be about reaching the best quality that I’m able to reach at this particular time. For an anti-perfectionist, a self-proclaimed queen of the “good enough, just ship it” which I am, it’s a test of operating at the best of my abilities. Which surprisingly I never fully did, like I do for my writing. I always worked at 80% of my capacity, on bad days even 60%.

So, while the main character of Clodia, an electronica musician and composer, is in the process of being created, I will also integrate more fully the feedback from my squad. Perhaps learn a bit of postproduction in Photoshop. Yes. I know. I’m so allergic to technology, but I need to learn. Step up. Stepping up will be a leitmotiv for next year. 

Martial Arts and Yoga

Well, for the first time ever in a very long time, I have to say that this department has been in maintenance mode for the entire year, with no particular progression, except those that came naturally from daily practice. The martial arts I even had to interrupt at the beginning of the year because of some injuries. I kept practicing Bujinkan, and I was offered to start the path to becoming a black belt, but I didn’t follow through with this. Well, I must say, as much as I love the people and the place, my heart just isn’t into it anymore as it used to. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which seemed to be the alternative didn’t completely convince me either. 

For yoga I kept a regular practice, following 90% of the time the teachings of Kayla Nielsen, and occasionally Meghan Currie. I did mostly 30 minutes of vinyasa in the morning, plus somewhere between 5 to 15 minutes of mediation, but really didn’t delve into the spiritual part any longer. I kept going to my brother lesson in Sorrento in the summer, which felt like good physical activity. And that’s pretty much it.

It’s a fact that this year I lived more of an exterior life than an interior life compared to the past. And that’s ok, after two years of the pandemic where I really deeply delved into all corners of the spirit. It’s ok to live differently, I WANTED to live differently. It’s good to attune with the flow of things around you, instead of always beating at the rythm of my own drums, seldom in synch with others. I feel that’s part of the spiritual quest too. Especially in the first six months of the year, it was a lot about edonism and little about spirituality. Now, at the end of the year, I feel I have reached a good balance. I’m integrating all the lessons, and finding the perfect middle ground.


This is the part of my life which thrived and expanded the most this year. By rooting in my neighbourhood I really built a community of incredible individuals around me. From deep friendships to pleasurable acquaintances, to people that will remain for a long time in my life, to those who will stay for just a season, I really enjoyed partecipating in social alchemies and creating new ones. Friends I had from over ten years met with the new friends from the neighbourhood, and they in turn mingled with my martial arts buddies… it was all about the art of the encounter, which benefitted not only me but also those around me. 

Then there was also a story of passion, more swift and momentous than a netflix series, full coup de théâtre, something that was pretty engulfing for me for the most part of the year – like all passions tend to be for me – but is now slowly transforming into fuel for my creativity. Truly, it took a lot from me, but also gave me back so much in terms of inspiration, experience, and creative input. It was ultimately a story full of beauty. Beautiful hopes, a whole lot of rage, very real feelings, moments of pure bliss. It haunted me long after it was all done, as it played with all elements which I feel so mine: travel, adventure, care, comraderie, projections, books, green eyes of a lovely kitten, blue wide eyes of a kid, music, enticing alternatives of how my life could develop, as I was shown new parts of myself. I was transformed from what I lived, by the deep affection and feelings I felt. 

All this happened within a full life where I cultivated rituals that made me happy, from matcha tea on Saturday afternoons with my friend Giovanna, to the cappuccino and cornetto at Burro on Sunday mornings, right after a bit of saucha practice. And then the concerts with Fabiana, the new music that make my inner maenad dance. This year music also took a centre stage in a way almost comparable to my teen years in terms of exploration and expanding my taste. I went to a number of concerts this year; Skunk Anansie, I saw Patti Smith for the 4th time, Almamegretta, Aurora, plus some a super indie electronica concert on a terrace – what actually got me into elecronica in a big way – the mega-concert of the 1st of May – a national event in Italy – and Alva Noto at Villa Massimo in Rome. 

The people, the places. Beside the dojo – which is where my own kind always is – I made good friends in my neighborhood, which I can’t stop mentioning because that’s where I really put roots. My home became enlivened with all the people that filled my living room, that dined at my table. It’s really the result of staying open, but also investing in the people surrounding you. Keeping an open space of curiosity in your heart, creating beautiful connections, and then stepping back, just seeing your friends interacting with each other, bonding, and observing how that magic is making your own world more beautiful too. Love shared increase. 

I started making dinners at my place on the weekends. And then we explored the beaches of Latium in the summer. We went dancing a couple of times and to events in the neighborhood. The loneliness that at times comes with independence and the freedom of living alone was never a thing this year. I always felt full of love, delighted in sharing, in opening the doors to friends, sharing food, playing card games, chatting, and mingling. This was the real gift of this year. The people who filled my heart to the brim.

So despite the tough moments, this year I always felt held. Sorrows and joys were so shared. And now I just wish to keep living like this, surrounded by this kind of love, care, protection, and joy. Livign expanding this joy even more. I have been going to bed with my heart full, with ten beautiful things that happen on the day in my mind, and a big wide smile on my cushion.

So what’s next? An horoscope for Virgo – don’t believe this stuff of course, but since a guy from BJJ got me and my friend Fabiana into it, we take it as playful inspiration – says that 2023 will be for me a year to finally let go of closed situation, but salvaging the goodness that sprouted from it. And that’s kind of coherent. A second horoscope on another magazine says that this is the year of level up my game. And that also seems in line to my intentions for writing and the comics. So be it. I feel very excited, keen and very much geared, balancing planning and improvisation. Flow and sense of direction. Embracing it all.

So Godspeed, to me, and to you my friend!

For my 2022 in pictures, hop on over Gioco di Donne

For the other years in review: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014

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