Felice Pignataro, Donnareggina, 1994. Courtesy Gianni Tarricone. Foto © Amedeo Benestante. | Felice Pignataro, Donnareggina, 1994. Courtesy Gianni Tarricone. Photo © Amedeo Benestante.


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The GRIDAS, acronym of “Gruppo Risveglio dal Sonno” (“Group for the Awakening from the Sleep”), is an association active from 1981 in the Scampia district, in the Northern Naples area, whose actions are focused on putting artistic and cultural skills to the service of people, in order to awake a form of collective civil consciousness.
The co-founder of the group Felice Pignataro (Rome, 1940 – Naples, 2004) perfectioned, among all, the Central-American based artistic technique of the mural. There are over two hundred works made by GRIDAS in the Neapolitan hinterland and in other Italian cities, from Trento to Reggio Calabria: a research and production that makes Pignataro the “most prolific muralist in the world”, to mention the definition given by the art historian Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich (Warburg Institute, London).

The Project Room of the Madre museum hold Felice@Madre, a selection of the works created by Pignataro and GRIDAS since the 1980s: a collection of banners and canvases depicting popular “stories”, paper-masks and polyurethane foam masks – like those displayed in the museum’s atrium, among which stands the statue of San Ghetto Martyr, Protector of the Suburbs –, sculptures made with recycled materials, selfprinted and line-based posters, that give back the sense of an art in continuous dialogue and confrontation with the facts and events that have highlighted, from a social and cultural point of view, the history of the suburbs areas of the city of Naples in the last decades, outcome of centenarian processes of marginalization on the one hand and of resistance on the other.

The presentation also includes a small retrospective of the Scampia Carnival Parade: one of the many initiatives, perhaps the most iconic, through which GRIDAS – taking up back also the teaching of artists whose works are involved and dissolved in the social context, among them, Piero Gilardi in Turin, whose works and materials are also part of the Madre museum’s collection – brought creativity to urban areas where that, simply, had not been foreseen. An art, therefore, created and accepted as a job or personal redemption, of the assumption of civil responsibility and of the practice of active citizenship. Actions often impromptu and realized in a very short time, so as to deserve the title – given by Pignataro himself – of actions of “cultural first aid”. On one of the two monitors set up in the hall flow the images created by Pignataro settled in their urban context, while on the other monitor there are extracts from interviews and documentaries dedicated to the association and its founder.

The second part of the Project Room hold the artwork Petrified Forest (2003) created by the sculptor, essayist and American poet Jimmie Durham (Houston, Texas, 1940), who chose to live, for some periods of the year, in the city of Naples: the reproduction of a typical abandoned office environment, with desks, files and computers covered by a thick rain of cement dust. A desolate and bleak scenario, born from a catastrophe of uncertain nature. In a game of contrasts – the definitive silence suggested by the warning of Durham on the one hand, the irrepressible “scream” of Scampia on the other – Pignataro’s, GRIDAS’ and Durham’s works dialogue in the Madre museum’s collection also find between each other subtle analogies on the themes of work and of the dehumanizing drifts of capitalism and of the Western mechanisms of control and power, opposing them the forms of a liberating and re-aggregating creativity that starts from the individual and his desire of personal and collective redemption.

The Felice@Madre exhibition takes place in the context of Madre per il Sociale – a new platform devoted to educational activities and networks of social inclusion projects – also including, in the month of July 2018, the laboratories held in the museum by associations that regularly collaborate with GRIDAS, along with the workshop connected to the project Amos’ World (Episode 3) by the American artist Cécile B. Evans (Cleveland, Ohio, 1983) – realized with the support of Nicoletta Fiorucci, founder of Fiorucci Art Trust, and organized by Madre museum in collaboration with Centro Insieme Onlus – that will take place on July 12th between the Scampia district and the museum of contemporary art Donnaregina, and which will focus on the concept and on the experience of “home”.