The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars

This long-term documentary project is an ode to youth growing in difficult contexts deprived of opportunities and positive role models. The series aims to challenge the typical misrepresentation of youth in the South of Italy.

"The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars" is an ode to the youth growing in difficult contexts deprived of opportunities and positive role models.

This long-term documentary project explores youth culture in Napoli through the traditional bonfire celebration known as Cippo di Sant'Antonio.

Stemming from a pagan tradition where peasants constructed fires with domestic waste to celebrate the end of winter and seek protection for the new year ahead, the tradition has taken a peculiar turn in the city of Napoli. The current iteration of the ritual has evolved in a playful game seeing groups of children aged 6 to 16 taking the streets in balaclavas, stealing Christmas trees, engaging in battles with gangs from rival districts and hiding and guarding the loot in secret areas within their territories until the day of the fire. This game, drenched in violence and mischief, naively conceals the territorial attitude and alphabet of systemic criminality often present in Southern-Italy.

The fire is seen as a door and threshold that the youths strives to cross through. And the game encompasses different dimensions where tropes of friendship, trust, hierarchy, territory, masculinity, law and outlaw are intertwined.
A rite of passage in which the frantic emotional instability typical of the coming of age reaches its climax and burn with the fire sacrificing itself to the civilization. The savagery dominating the creation and lighting up of the fire is followed by a quiet tenderness. The thrilling spirits of the adulthood caged in these young bodies are finally freed up and exhausted in the moment the fire finally burning., killing the child and becoming adults at last.

The series also responds to a dominant colonial narrative of Napoli that foreigner and local photographers have built on stereotypes with bold and parodical subjects in seeking to please a toxic social media mechanism.

By mixing formats and color with black and white to escape a mannerist language, I have developed this diary-like storytelling with a raw and intimate approach, allowing beauty and grit to coexist.
These photographs aim to convey the naivety and beauty of this age whilst providing new ways to visually examine the subject of youth and identity; highlighting the issues affecting the south of Italy and bridging this youth to a broader Mediterranean culture and population.