The second chapter of the site-specific project SKIN TaSTE, curated by Adriana Rispoli for PortoFluviale, in Rome, in collaboration with Incontri Internazionali d’Arte and Banca Generali | Private Banking, features Flavio Favelli with the work Campioni, a large billboard of about 150 sqm, which covers the “skin” of PortoFluviale (the installation will be visible to the public until March 22, 2015, via del Porto Fluviale, 22).
Campioni presents a selection of images of some famous figurine (the stickers) that portray eleven football players while wearing the outfits of the AS Roma and the SS Lazio, that is to say, the players militated in both teams during their career.
DROME has gathered a dialogue between the curator and the artist.
Adriana Rispoli: Starting from everyday objects, Flavio Favelli always manages to awaken different emotions, to make us look at reality with different eyes, to stimulate our lazy conscience, extracting with almost elementary stratagems like football stickers sensations, altogether unexpected. With Campioni, more than ever though, the position of the audience is crucial in the reading of the work.
Is football a mere device for the dissemination of your work, that is to say, was it simply instrumental to the “representation” of a metaphor or is there a real interest on your part?
Flavio Favelli: There is real interest, I have been a great footballer, even though I didn’t play that much and never in an organized team, only when I was a child and only during the summer.
My affinity to the football comes from my visceral attachment to leather, which I then had to abandon; the image of football was too distant to the one my mother had for me, and I wasn’t strong enough to oppose myself; in some parts of the world, the image is everything.
Visceral as I’ve always felt a compulsion to the ball I would call erotic; dribbling lives in the realm of the senses.
AR: Lately it seems to me that you’re using different expressive codes, belonging to rather distant categories of costumes, such as pornography or precisely football, however united by being somehow impartial. Popular and very widespread. In this I find a desire for communication and especially the great virtue of being a vehicle for a democratic spread in a certain sense. Football and thereby the cheer, for example, is an admitted knowledge and shared by all social and cultural levels. Do you agree?
FF: I have an ambiguous relationship with football. I haven’t been to the stadium in almost thirty years, since May 29, 1985, when I assisted the match Juventus-Liverpool, at the Hysel stadium. Even though I wasn’t a supporter of Juventus, this was the first time I took an airplane.
I remember a goal scored by Falcao during Roma-Napoli in 83: I was sixteen years old, went to see a friend, Mario from Rome, and together with his grandfather we went to the stadium.
Recently I made a performance and tried to imitate Maradona, who during the warm-up before Stuttgart-Naples in 89, unconsciously, followed the rhythm of Live is Life, a hit in those years. This was probably the first time a football player danced on the field.
AR: How do you think the audience of a city like Rome will react to such a provocative and at the same time objective work? Will the audience be able to understand?
FF: I don’t think that this is a provocative work. It is an imaginary team that gathers 40 years of football, from my year of birth in 1967 until 2010.
The teams are eternal, but are made by players who keep on changing, and in the end football is a world of exes. In this case, changing the shirt is a rhetorical figure, it goes beyond the game, it is not a sport, but a mental reality.
It is frequent in Rome to find taxi drivers listening to the local radio stations of Roma or Lazio; they will never ask you if this bothers, as in Rome everything is more… heavy, the time and so the football. The symbols of the two teams, the myth of the Capitoline Wolf and the imperial eagle don’t belong to the game.
I don’t know if there is anything precise to be understood, like in my work in general, there are images that generate images. Perhaps a subject is the time that passes, inexorably… how young Manfredonia was when he played for Lazio!
AR: The selected players that appear in the blow-ups of the stickers, covering the Porto Fluviale like a new “skin”, in their double shirts and double faces, do they embody heroes or traitors? Or rather beyond that, is Campioni a tribute to memory? Almost a melancholic childhood memory? A work both public and private?
FF: The players are always champions (Campioni). Their portraits are on the “figurine” stickers, like pictures of saints, they are heroes sacrificing themselves for us, representing us, perhaps like soldiers.
It is the world of hymns, flags and uniforms, of rituals and myths. It is a world that in the end we are comforted by. At times I repeat the names of the seven Kings of Rome, but I remember better those of Italy world champion in 82.
Via del Porto Fluviale, 22
Rome, until March 22, 2015