Casa Senegal

(english trans./ italian version here)

Siamo tutti di una stessa statura: manca l’eroe, che come un faro ci guidi costruendo gli eventi: questi saranno piuttosto frutto o premio dell’amore civile.
Ragionamento sul dolore civile – Pier Paolo Pasolini

If choosing to see is the first act of collective action, the photograph can be an instrument of action as well as testimony. Seeing things and stories assert their power, their reality. As a non-detached witness, the photographer provides ideas, as well as notes, for a possible civil redemption.

The piece of (hi)story that Alessandro Ciccarelli wanted to see/tell begins from the Pigneto district in Rome. In May 2010 an inspection of both the Local Health Authority and the Security Service for Private Building of IV District of Rome surprised the Sow family - long-standing inhabitants of the district and artisans for tradition – in the apartments situated in Via Fanfulla da Lodi. For nineteen years the Senegalese family paid on time every month €1,800 to rent a round-down apartment a little bigger than a hundred square meters, inhabited by twenty people, without receiving any receipt. Yet, as a cheeky paradox, it is a twisted use of bureaucracy that may threaten the Sow’s housing right. The building is considered uninhabitable for hygiene reasons and must be evacuated. The order arrived quickly.

There is something weird, but the explanation is hidden in the fierce property speculation that runs over and transforms everything, including the strong identities that shaped these places. The district, that until a decade ago was considered suburban wastelands, is becoming a trendy place, and buildings begin to increase in value. However, you cannot evict tenants who pay the rent regularly, so the fastest way to return the building to the market is to declare its unhealthiness.

The Sows made a plea that was welcomed by the assembly of the district inhabitants and by a neighborly solidarity. The building became a “socially protected area”, in which no one remains alone, all fighting speculation and lack of rights. If a building is decadent, you need only to gear up, arrange the electrical system according to the standards, the pipes, the kitchen's ventilation system and the roof. So the Senegalese and the neighborhood took action for the restoration of the building up to void the order of the mayor. On 12th January 2011 the Regional Administrative Court suspended the eviction of the family in Via Fanfulla da Lodi 38, because there was no longer instability or lack of hygiene.

From these shots we can feel the energy of bodies facing abuse, bodies that keep on moving, that do not stop. And, in things and signs of expectation, a sensibility to learned, an experience of silence that doesn’t reveal loss, but dignity. It is inherent to the territory an aware consciousness that is able to reveal itself, becoming common culture when is needed. The existence of a community is not something given from above, but it's a self-determined daily practice, coming from the grassroots. It's choosing not to be blind, even in front of the most disturbing contrast, as in the images of this work. It is a constant need for action and testimony. It is a collective memory, where everyone chooses to tell a piece in the present, to read the past and build the future.

Giusi Palomba