Erik Messori | Naples Camorra
Erik Messori is based in Italy. He began his photographic career with local newpapers in his native Italian region. In 2003 he began working freelance for publications such as the Out of Focus Magazine, Photojournale, The Australian, Bite Magazine, Social Documentary, Corriere della Sera, and PeaceReporter Magazine. He cooperates with News International and A.N.S.A.
During career he has photographed International stories in Albania, Kosovo, Chernobyl, Belarus, Bangladesh, Italy, Vietnam and Australia, as well as the war of camorra in Naples and earthquake in Aquila in 2009. His Chernobyl work was published in book CONNECTIONS ACROSS A HUMAN PLANET of Photojournale. His awards include: Award of Merit at the Fotoweek DC 2009. Erik is a finalist in LPDF Awards 2009 in Photojournalism Series. Erik Messori is represented by Photo Agency F:4 in Turin – Italy..
Naples Camorra (2006-2008)
Naples: northern district; area of Scampia; population eighty thousand. Here, if we observe attentively, we can still distinguish the horizontal line where the long wave of the Italian economic miracle crashed and turned backwards. Erik Messori has walked through this environment of “blood and cement”, photographing the dull and leaden skies under which lives a degraded inhumanity, made of drug dealers and their clients, death and poverty. Through his photos we lose all sense of reality mainly because we are used to thinking of degradation as something far removed from us, that is, the shanty towns of Lagos, the shacks of Rio and the unimaginable worker’s district of Mumbai. Yet, at more or less a thousand kilometres from Milan there exists an island called Scampia. But this is an island of terror, a ghetto rising from the ashes of the 1980 earthquake and chosen by destiny and a political complacency to be like a refuge for the mafia clan. It is an immense place for dealing, a paradise of drugs that shocks you in its brutality.
Erik gathers the fragments of an imagine that is consolidating right now, and yet Scampia has always been there. The ‘Vele” of Franz di Salvo, the buildings made famous by the Garrone film, stand like rotting tombstones in the streets invaded by cars and rubbish.
As if seduced by this far away violence, we approach, with a safe distance, to have a better look, to focus in the eyes of death. And it is a death which runs along the entrance hallways of the buildings, on balconies populated by flocks of satellite dishes, along the streets beaten by cars from customers and drug dealers. In viewing Messori’s photos, one can almost hear the cries of street urchins alerting each other from balconies, pointing to who enters and who leaves the district. Escorted by police we enter, together with Erik, on the roadside some addicts: lie down, inject, and surrender to the drug in the middle of litter and rotting fields, covered by garbage and used syringes.
Scampia attracted crowds of addicts when, in the early nineties the administration decided to open a new ASL facility, Napoli 1, which housed a centre of administration of methadone, right next to Vele. A decision that not only attracted drug addicts but also the Camorra people which, having sensed the possibility of business, gradually settled in the district. Far from the city centre, isolated and unpoliced the Camorra took over the area. The Di Lauro clan in particular, was the lord of the district until the year two thousand, when a bloody war was unleashed within the clan.
Hundreds of corpses have fallen in this corner of Italy forgotten by law. Messori renders the image of death imprinted on the face of a man lying on the floor of a building, his head facing upwards, mouth half closed, surrounded only by the police markings. Looking at this picture comes to mind a passage from ‘Gomorra’ in which Saviano tells of how much he was horrified to know that the men of the clan, mortally wounded, often defecate while dying.
To live and to die in Scampia must be simple and very difficult at the same time. Simple, as the silence of fear, and simple as the complacency to a situation that no authority is willing to change; a bit like getting a vote in exchange for something. Difficult as the choice, the one imprinted in grey concrete, written by the insecure hand of a drug addict, last epitaph of an Italian shadow, captured by the lens of Italian photographer, Erik Messori. (Planned by John Horniblow, written by Isabella Midili, translated by Manuela Giaroli)