Love and hate, holiness and cruelty

Diana Marrone talks about Naples

Diana Marrone is of the curators in the Amsterdam Biennale and a guide for Naples (Italy) on the Mediamatic Travel website. She tells about the love-hate relationship she has with her city.

Read more about what Diana is showing in her pavilion here.


Interview with Diana Marrone - Interview with Diana Marrone (Naples Guide) Raphael Rehbach

"I am so excited about the Travel project. I'll be very happy to use the website to connect with a guide when I'm traveling, to be able to find someone who thinks the same as me in every city in the world. When you pick up a travelguide in a bookstore, it's always commercial. They only show you the main touristic scenes. It's great that this project gets you in touch with clever people who can introduce you to the underground scene."

"I was born in Naples, but moved to Milan. By participating in Mediamatic Travel it feels like I'm giving something back to the city. It is a poor city with a very high unemployment rate. Many citizens have left. Some say that the best people leave and the worst people stay, but I think it's the other way around. A lot of people still live in or move to Naples, 'resisting' to its pressures... Also artists. One of them I am showing in the Biennale pavilion: Roberto Paci Dalò. He moved from Rimini to Naples and shows his art in one of the galleries there. He always works with the city in a creative way. In the Amsterdam Biennale he is showing his video Dust. Roberto exemplifies a generation of artists who, in a closer way, selected Naples as elective city."

"Naples can be a quite tiring place to live in because it is small and overpopulated. When you go to a bar there isn't even room for tables and chairs. There are many differences between the different parts of the city. Most tourists only visit the centre. Here the buried Greek and Roman cities below street level define the shapes of the buildings and the roads that are there today. It is an 'open air museum', protected by UNESCO. From the Piazza del Plebiscito onwards, you move into two other districts that are both poor and popular. According to other guides these are dangerous places, but actually they are very lively. Poor and rich people live together in the same area here."

"In the Quartieri Spagnoli, the Spanish Quarters, you will find many cultural activities, including two long-lasting theatres (Nuovo, Galleria Toledo). Theatre is one of the main assets of the city and Naples has a long tradition that derives from Greek and Roman times. There are many arenas in- and outside of Naples, such as Anfiteatro Flavio in Pozzuoli (our little Colosseum). The Naples Theatre Festival, annually organised in June, is contributing to this asset, sometimes with performances in unconventional, extraordinary places which Naples is rich of."

The governance of Naples is incapable and corrupt. In the south of Italy the political class (both governmental and opposition) is also deeply linked to criminality, what we call camorra. If you open a shop in Naples, someone from camorra will immediately come and demand money from you, what we call tangente. There is almost no private sector; all businesses fail. You might ask: why don't the inhabitants revolt? We tried, but the majority of people are exhausted and left... However, there are also citizens who get organised and help each other out."

"N.EST is a project started by Danilo Capasso with whom I cooperate. It is about the eastern district of Naples. Nobody cares about this part. It's poor and polluted; companies abandoned it years ago. But because there are open spaces and it's not very old, we believe it has potential for the future. N.EST aims to enter into processes of urban regeneration and wants to do something for the city. We meet with the authorities in residual spaces to let artists create their vision on city planning. The artists' work is site-specific, but unfortunately we don't often have permission on work at the site... That's why we made a website, where we have the freedom to present all the artworks. Sometimes artists choose to only work online, sometimes they also contribute offline in physical space. One example of the artists in N.EST is Marco Zezza, who is also showing work in the Amsterdam Biennale. He left Naples but felt detached from his hometown and returned. The work on show at Mediamatic is the animated video Bordo, about the Via Brin, a street where prostitutes offer their services. The video shows the physical and chemical reactions happening during sex and points the way towards a possible post-industrial love district."

"So why would anyone want to visit Naples? Because the city is magical! When you walk from the West district towards the sea, you see beautiful views and there are many nice places to swim. Naples is full of smells - from flowers, the sea but also from the garbage. Sometimes I recognise a scent when I'm in Milan and it immediately brings me back to Naples. The city is continuously balancing between love and hate, cruelty and holiness. It's like a lift, always going up and down. The landscape is somewhere between flatness and hills, and on the streets the past meets the present. When you visit Naples, you will find that people there are very friendly. If you ask a person on the street for directions, he will probably walk with you to the place, because people cannot speak English. Naples is a port city, so everyone is open to other cultures. All these reasons combined make the city very attractive to artists."

Visit Diana Marrone's Naples pavilion in the Amsterdam Biennale at Mediamatic. With:

Danilo Capasso

Alessandro Cimmino


Roberto Paci Dalò

Marco Zezza