Catania is a city with a high percentage of people affected by poverty and social exclusion, most of whom live in the impoverished Quatteri neighborhoods. Real life starts early, schooling rate is very low, children are forced to grow up quickly and they very often engage in illegal activities such as theft or drug dealing to support their mothers and younger siblings because the father was “attaccato” (arrested). In the wealthier social contexts they are called “Mammoriani”. The term comes from the expression “mammoriri mo mà” (should my mother die), used as a form of oath, that helps to understand the deep bond with the most sacred member of the family: the mother. The family is the primary social unit, with very clear rules and roles to be respected in regard to the choices of one’s life, in an indissoluble bond of devotion and respect. This type of “respect” coincides with a mafia culture that is still very widespread today. The first steps into the society, begin with criminal activities as children, later alternating their existences between prison and freedom. In the summer, many kids from the most deprived neighborhoods of Catania spend the days on the cliffs in San Giovanni Licuti, at La Testa del Leone and at the Basketball Court. I followed a group of 10 children aged 11 to 15, an important and crucial age, where they try many new things for the first time, such as their first kisses, the discovery of sex, the first cigarettes or joints. Many of these kids already have a troubled past or are experiencing their present in a way that doesn’t reflect their young age at all. I portrayed them among the rocks, while I could glimpse things as they were in their childhood; I loved depicting them with simplicity during some moments of lightheartedness lived in freedom.
The summer of 2020 will be remembered in Italy as the illusion of the disappearance of the Covid- 19. These guys felt a huge need to make up for the 56-day lockdown that saw them deprived of interpersonal relationships. I felt a lot of energy in their spirit and an urgent need to make up for lost time.
Photo copyright: © Daniele Vita