In this age of increasing polarization, you may be cheered by the work of the artist collective Guerilla Spam, who invests their time and creative efforts into connecting communities with each other, with art, with history – across generations of citizens in Italy. Today we bring you Part One of a two-part installation they’ve just completed here in S. Croce di Magliano.
Created in November 2010 in Florence as a spontaneous, unauthorized form of resistance and protest in urban spaces Guerilla Spam works in schools, juvenile communities, reception centers, and prisons, among other places. Here they created workshops to identify the needs of the community and to understand its identity.
A combination of elbow grease and philosophy, the project repairs and restores public places to improve their usability and hopefully teach young people and local talents to respect the urban environment – and possibly honor the cultural heritage of the community.
This project, “Border light” is a cultural intersection of communal creations that are located in three strategic areas of S. Croce di Magliano. Today we look at a two-part artwork that transforms a skating rink of the former sports center and, cleverly, its access stairs.
“The interventions have in common the theme of the ‘path’,” says Guerilla Spam, “namely the path that leads, in a metaphorical sense, to popular knowledge, symbolized in both cases by a source of water. In a more concrete sense, this path leads to the very exploration of the artwork that can be crossed, touched, and used.”
The stairway is called “The staircase of the knowledge“. At the top of the staircase is an inscription “Ancora imparo”, symbolizing that “even at the end of the path, one never stops learning; this is because knowledge is a continuous, lifelong process.”
On the main stage is the Labyrinth representing the more complex path that life can take, and how difficult it can be to reach the water; the source of knowledge and life. “This indicates how reaching popular knowledge can be really hard, as it requires reading up and talking to elderlies, namely those sources of knowledge that might be lost if they are not allowed to hand down what they know.”
The structure is not intended to be just admired, but it invites people to come in, walk, sit and play on it.
The Turin-based illustrator Guerrilla Spam began in Firenz in 2010 and has since travelled to do large scale murals and posters and installations across Italy and into places like Bruxelles, Bristol and Berlin. They like to refer to their work as “a spontaneous, unauthorized form of resistance and protest in urban spaces” – which reminds you of the rebellious ethos of graffiti writers blended with the consciousness of designers and activists eager to evolve society forward. In this case, topics range from education, the penal system, and immigration, among others.
For this “usable monument” in Santa Croce di Magliano, Guerilla Spam is aiming to share people’s history, specifically the uprising of those here who fought to claim their land in 1955.
“The day laborers of Santa Croce di Magliano,” says Guerilla Spam, “supported by the women (who lined up in front of the police), by trade unionists and communist leaders, succeeded in obtaining the reallocation of the land. The memory of this event is imprinted in the writings, drawings, and colors of the monument (the colors remind of the ones of the countryside).”
Bright and optically entertaining, the game is welcoming and accessible, bringing with it the possibility of edification through education. Unusual for unsanctioned public art, normal for those who seize public space for free speech. “Even a passer-by can undertake this path,” says Guerilla Spam, “which looks like a game, but is actually a march towards the awareness of man’s rights”
The Turin-based illustrator Guerrilla Spam has interpreted the “Quarantana” as a stylized toy extended from the arm of an elegant, almost Egyptian figure in a tall fez. Alessandria-born Street Artist 108 depicts the traditional doll as a unique abstraction merged within a form, not specifically figurative, rather primitive perhaps.
are interpreting a pagan/Christian traditional ritual next to each other here
in Santa Croce di Magliano.
“ ‘Quarantana‘ is a doll made of fabric and straw, having the appearance of an old woman; the doll, usually hanged to a rope between the balconies or in front of the windows, stands on a potato with seven feathers attached,” say organizers at the Antonio Giordano Street Art festival. “The ritual, fusing Christian and pagan cultures, expresses the importance of living a life of sobriety and peace.”