Naima Morelli

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One of the things that makes me happy in life are conversations with people, giving me kernels of wisdom and guidance that I can readily apply to my life and to the projects I’m bringing forward. Some of the people I talk with regularly and exchange opinions and mutual suggestions are my closest friends, Laslo, Roberto, Giovanna. Or family – my dad – though being an apprehensive dad who I know would always advise me for the safest route, or my uncle Uma Gargiulo, who I don’t see nearly as often, but every time we get to talk is a revelation; I end up walking home with a stronger sense of what I’m doing with my work and creative life.

There are all these people, and then there are the teachers. They are a different story from friends and family, because unlike them, they know me much less. Most importantly they don’t really want to enter my world, or are interested to really know my problems in depth. They rather offer their teachings, their world vision, their way of doing things, and give me feedback on how I’m doing on that path. For a chance, I have always considered a very good thing having people who are much less about understanding, thinking, talking, explaining, and much more about acting, doing, executing. You know, what makes for a prolific writer always open to doubt and reconsider the so-called “truth”, sometimes also makes for an indecisive person. To paraphrase writer Ryan Holiday: “If I was good at putting into practice stoic teaching I won’t have the need to study it. People who are already good at it just do it, they don’t need to conceptualise them and write about it.”

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The summer of 2012 is not a long time ago , but from my perspective and for all I have experienced in this two years it feels like decades ago. Back then I just graduated from the Art Academy with a thesis on the “Popolo” in the arts and, at the beginning of the year I started to became intrigued by Indonesian art thanks to the exhibition “Beyond the Est” at MACRO, curated by Dominique Lora. I began researching about contemporary art in Indonesia and in a few weeks I was a regular visitor of the Castro Pretorio library in Rome. I would go there every week sourcing and memorizing everything I could find related to art in Indonesia and South East Asia. I would fill notebooks on notebooks and start planning to go to Indonesia. At that time my partner in crime Lucas Catalano was eager to go back to Bali to work on a photoessay and he offered me his help with the project.
I mailed Barbara from Art a Part of Cult(ure), the magazine I was writing for from three years, asking if she would be interested in a reportage of the art scene in Indonesia. She said yes, of course! I started sending emails around to the artists and fix interviews. Once in Indonesia, everyone was super nice, open and welcoming. Every interview gave me not only fundamental insights into the art practice of the artist and his context, but it was also really good fun! Here some pictures that give you some glimpses of the field-research that I did for my upcoming book “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia”. There are no captions; let the images do the talk! Then of course, if you are already accustomed to the arts in Indonesia you will certainly recognize all the faces. (And of course, don’t miss the updates for the release “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia”)

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Tano D’Amico lancia al registratore appoggiato sul tavolino uno sguardo lungo, obliquo, minaccioso, di assoluta disapprovazione. E si che è stato lui a dire che la macchina fotografica è stupida, ragionevolmente non considererà un registratore tanto più intelligente: “Preferisco che tu scriva quello che ti rimane impresso.”

Siamo seduti ad un bar vicino l’Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma, in Via di Ripetta, e già qualche studente si è seduto al tavolo con noi, accolto con allegria da Tano.
C’è un’empatia naturale e reciproca tra i ragazzi e il “loro” fotoreporter, quello che gli ha fornito le immagini mitologiche delle rivolte studentesche, dagli anni ’70 fino ad oggi, oltre le banalizzazioni “pornografiche”, come le definisce lo stesso D’Amico, che i media erogano a getto continuo: “Sono immagini brutte, che non aiutano a vivere, bloccano la memoria, spesso non aiutano nemmeno ad esorcizzare il presente. Sono immagini fatti con gli occhi del boia, in una sorta di compiacimento della crudeltà, con l’alibi della documentazione. In queste immagini il carnefice ha un quoziente di umanità maggiore della vittima e sono indispensabili per chi comanda.

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