Our story begins in the area denied to the crowds thronging the halls that house the collections of the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. This photographic narrative reveals unexpected treasures concealed under the roofs of this Neapolitan institution.
In Luigi Spina’s work, a rusty iron door concealed under several coats of paint stands for the Pillars of Hercules. When it opens, we find ourselves peering into a long narrow hallway: our eyes need to become accustomed to the light. We are standing in what has always been inexplicably called Sing Sing: cells barred by grates preserving the memories of a material culture that hails from Pompei and Ercolano.
Bronze, glass, ceramic, and terracotta artifacts fill these rooms, evoking the catastrophic eruption of 79 AD that brought everyday life in this area to a sudden end. The shelves are cluttered with candle sticks, decorations, handles, statues, pots, oil lamps… and even charred bread. It all bears living and highly significant testimony to the natural holocaust when the actions of the God Vulcan led to an unprecedented tragedy.
Luigi Spina’s photographs lead us in the discovery of the cells, their contents, the masterpieces hidden from the eyes of the public. A table covered with a white cloth holds a series of objects from the houses of men and women whose lives were cut short in ancient times.
Luigi Spina is a photographer. His work depicts amphitheatres and the civic dimension of the sacred and explores the links between art and faith, the search for ancient cultural roots, and the physical impact of classical sculpture. His published works include L’Ora incerta (2014), The Buchner Boxes (2014), Hemba (2017), and Mythical Diary (2017). Spina has collaborated with Valeria Sampaolo and 5 Continents Editions to create the series Oggetti rari e preziosi al Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, whose titles to date are Memorie del Vaso blu (2016), Amazzonomachia (2017), Centauri (2017), Sette sapienti (2018), and Zefiro e Clori (2018), as well as the Hidden Treasures series, which now includes The Farnese Cup. He has also published The Dancers at the Villa of the Papyri for 5 Continents Editions’ Tailormade series.
Paolo Giulierini is an archaeologist specializing in the Etruscans. He is a former director of Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca in Cortona and is at present director of the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
João Vilela Geraldo was born in 1976 in Portugal — a country that had only recently left the gray, muted tones of dictatorship and was slowly, very slowly, on track to becoming a fully democratic regime. Geraldo was lucky enough to have parents who dreamed big and could travel. That nomadic beginning was, and still is, one of his trademarks. After the exotic freedom of Brazil and Venezuela in the 1980s, and the “can do” attitude of the USA, where he grew his mind as a teenager, he ended up studying in Italy, then the Netherlands, then the UK. His first job, initially a surprise, led him to strengthen his traveling “skills” as he managed portfolios and executive customers for the world’s biggest airline. He soon moved to private aviation, where he stayed until his adventures took him back to Brazil, then Argentina, then South Africa. He returned to Europe to deal with “impossible requests,” and he created a unique project, Make it Happen, which took him to the Arctic Circle and Japan, where troubleshooting resulted in many sleepless nights. He began handling logistics and production for some of the most prestigious photographers in the world. Moving quickly, he curated his first exhibition and launched publishing projects with illustrators, designers, architects and other creative types. He is a founding member of some of Europe’s leading design and photography festivals. He continues to travel the globe with the same curiosity and impatience that his parents found slightly difficult to manage.
Davide Vargas is an “architect/intellectual.” His projects are situated in a landscape that “offers the endless inspiration of pain and love.” But everyone knows that obstacles are opportunities for planting the seeds of greater quality and innovation. The Student Housing in Aversa and the City Hall in San Prisco were displayed in the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2012; Casa F was awarded the INARCH Campania prize in 2015; Casa a Righe’s skin is furrowed as if by the viti maritate (tree-bound vines) that traverse the countryside; and Opificio Nardi is a beacon in Caserta’s industrial landscape. Published in 2014, Opere e Omissioni (Works and Omissions), published by letteraVentidue, collects thirty years of his work. In 2009 he published Racconti di qui with Tullio Pironti, and in 2012, with the same publisher, Racconti di architettura. L’altra città completes the “Speaking Stories Trilogy.” In 2010–11 he contributed to Domusunder the direction of Alessandro Mendini. Since 2017 he has authored a weekly column for La Repubblica Napoli called “Narrazioni,” in which he elaborates on the contents of l’altra cittàthrough words and sketches.