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Wednesday 23 June 2021

Letter from Naples: Mexican murals and Neapolitan murals

Naples: Mexican murals and Neapolitan murals

Author of the content

di Raffaele Aragona

I murals they take their name from the Mexican “muralism”, an artistic movement of protest against power, which developed with the fresco technique on public walls, mostly with scenes of pre-Columbian civilization.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to write about it in a Neapolitan newspaper about the desire to eliminate the many 'muralscitizens, to cancel them, because they horrify me from an urban point of view and sometimes even report errors. I was writing about them for a matter of urban decor, but I wanted to eliminate them not only from the walls of the city, but also from the pages of the newspapers: I was referring to the term 'murales' that recurs continuously and badly in the press. Yes, because 'murales' is a Spanish word and, if so reported in an Italian writing, it should, if ever, definitely be written in italics. Anyhow, murals it is a plural form and should certainly not be used in referring to a single "work". So, in short, always write 'mural' in the singular and 'mural' in the plural. Printing should avoid the repetition of the error which could convince the reader of the correctness of an incorrect use. He also explicitly warns him Gypsies: "Shape murals is the Spanish plural of mural, therefore it should not be used in reference to the singular: the phrase "a mural" is incorrect ».

As for usage, both in the singular and in the plural, we follow the French who say and write mural e murals; let's do it without having to resort to foreign terms, even if they are languages ​​close to us.

Street art in Paris
Street art in Paris

Now, however, there is another reason to be interested in murals in Naples, indeed, in a particular mural; the one that appeared on the wall of a building in the Spanish Quarters depicting a baby robber who was sadly the victim of his own criminal act.

Mural of the baby robber in the Spanish Quarters
Mural of the baby robber in the Spanish Quarters

Following the dissent expressed by several parties, the intervention of the Prefect and the Attorney General, an Ordinance of the Municipality of Naples, who knows how awakened from the continuous tolerance of such events, finally ordered the removal of the mural. Some "intellectuals" have risen against this decision, including a writer, a lawyer, a judge and some names in the show business, speaking of an undemocratic provision and censorship; even the President of the Municipal Council signed the petition, who "ordered" the Prefect to think about his work and leave the murals alone (!). It is not a little surprising and disconcerting to read by men of culture and institutions, but even first by citizens, who intervene against the provisions of the Authorities asking that the memory of the fifteen-year-old boy killed by a carabiniere following an attempted robbery not be removed. At the news of the adolescent's death, dozens of people attacked the emergency room of the “Pellegrini” hospital, devastating the structure which remained closed for a long time; during that "expedition" a thirty-nine-year-old woman, mother of three, beaten to death by her companion, died just as the doctors of that hospital were busy fighting the violence of that angry crowd. The woman's own parents were beaten up. Shortly thereafter, some boys linked to the baby robber fired gunshots at the headquarters of the Provincial Command of the Carabinieri. Today, family members ask for truth and justice, and defend the mural so that public attention does not fall on the story of the young man killed.

There are many "non-intellectuals", however, who think differently. The human piety that unites everyone for this episode cannot prevail over a worse symbolism that justifies the negative values ​​of which a growing part of Neapolitan society feeds: oppression and illegality This mural assumes nothing but a form of rebellion against the established Authority. It is natural, therefore, that, in compliance with democratic institutions, apart from the aspects of urban decor and lack of authorization, murals can only be conceived as a particular form of art that represents beauty, but certainly not as elements that risk to be used almost as a hymn to illegality.

“I musici” by Caravaggio in Seregno
“I musici” by Caravaggio in Seregno

The persistence of the mural of the baby robber, on the other hand, almost praises criminal behaviors that easily harm the same children who have the duty to defend and reinforces the criminal behavior of minors in slums by encouraging them to do worse.

«The unwary signatories of the petition (…), historically sensitive to the appeal that the city's popular fund has always exercised on the educated classes - writes Adolfo Scotto di Luzio, in the pages of“ Il Mattino ”- do not understand this difference. Prisoners of the eternal Italian scheme (and southern in particular) for which the state is always guilty, they mistake the abuse with the cause of freedom. Accustomed to the image, to which they dedicate themselves professionally, they remain prisoners. They fight for a mural, but show no interest in justice. And so in their heads, the truth becomes an effect of propaganda and not the rigorous ascertainment of the facts ».

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