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Today is Bizzarro Bazar’s sixth birthday.
This year has not been ungenerous: so far, we’ve hosted stories of deserters in drag, mysterious graffiti on highway walls, cocktails featuring human fingers, ferocious mutinies, baboons employed as railroadmen, crucifixion labs, crazy postmen, martyrs, saints, cannibals, automatons, shrunken heads and famous skulls. And, of course, the tomb of Jesus Christ in Japan.
Meanwhile, a third volume of the Bizzarro Bazar Collection is in development, and will be available soon: after The Eternal Vigil and De Profundis, our next book will close this “trilogy” about Italian sacred places where a direct contact with death and human remains is still possible.
I would like to take the opportuinity to thank readers, who through comments and submissions contribute to keep this space alive. And I especially thank those who decided to donate through PayPal: they prove that, in Italy, we too can change the way of thinking, by actively supporting the work we love.
So we’re not celebrating ourselves: we are wishing “happy birthday” to the small independent community that in time has gathered around Bizzarro Bazar, a multitude of oddities enthusiasts, researchers of wonders, dream collectors and explorers of awe.
Keep The World Weird!
Fra pochi giorni sarà finalmente disponibile il secondo volume della Collana Bizzarro Bazar. Intitolato De profundis, il libro esplora le suggestioni del Cimitero delle Fontanelle di Napoli portando il lettore faccia a faccia con le “capuzzelle” e il loro significato simbolico grazie alle fotografie di Carlo Vannini.
Logos Edizioni in collaborazione con Ateliers ViaDueGobbiTre, nell’ambito della manifestazione internazionale Fotografia Europea, ha organizzato una mostra fotografica che presenterà in esposizione i migliori scatti dei primi due volumi della Collana. All’evento, intitolato Keep The World Weird, ovviamente sarà presente anche il vostro affezionato Bizzarro Bazar, che aprirà le danze parlando della “meraviglia nera” e del suo potere sovversivo. L’appuntamento è per venerdì 15 maggio alle ore 19, presso l’atelier Laura Cadelo Bertrand in Via Due Gobbi, Reggio Emilia.
Per i due giorni successivi, sabato 16 maggio e domenica 17 maggio, mi troverete intento a firmare e dedicare le copie di De profundis al Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino, presso lo stand Logos. E per la gioia di grandi e piccini sarà anche possibile impadronirsi di un profluvio di golosi gadget (shopper, spille, magneti, cartoline, e chi più ne ha più ne metta); tutti accessori imprescindibili per ostentare con classe il vostro orgoglio weird!
Per eventuali ulteriori aggiornamenti, ricordo che ora esiste anche la nostra pagina Facebook.
The second title of the Bizzarro Bazar Series is now available for pre-order.
After exploring the Palermo Capuchin Catacombs in the first volume, now we enter another unique place, the Fontanelle Cemetery in Naples, where one of the most peculiar and fascinating devotional cults has developed.
Buried in the heart of the city, the Sanità quarter is an authentic borderland between the world of the living and the world of the dead. You only need to distance yourself from the hustle and bustle, from the megaphones of the fruit and vegetable stalls, the mopeds ridden by fearless street urchins darting between the cars, and reach the top of the area: here on the right of the church of Maria Santissima del Carmine, is the Fontanelle cemetery.
Situated within an ancient tuff quarry, the cemetery is an imposing underground cathedral, hovering between darkness and the swathes of light cutting through it.
Thousands of bones and skulls are piled up for all to see, the remains of at least 40,000 anonymous human beings. In this evocative and peaceful place, death is no longer insurmountable: the living and the souls of the deceased communicate with each other by means of the so-called capuzzelle, which embody the ancestral obsession with the skull as an icon of transcendence and the promise of eternal life.
Here the skulls are spoken to, touched, and cleaned. They are taken care of. Candles are lit, offerings are given and favours asked for in a do ut des of worship.
This is the cult of the anime pezzentelle, abandoned and anonymous souls, in need of the compassion of the living to alleviate their suffering in Purgatory. In return, they promise to be kind to the devout believer, helping out with health problems, finding a husband for young unmarried girls, solving financial issues or providing the winning lottery numbers. Although the cult is now almost completely abandoned, it still resists, and its traces are well visible in the Cemetery.
There are countless ossuaries around the world, but the suggestion of the Fontanelle Cemetery is quite specific. On one hand, the compassionate and sober disposition of the human remains shows no sign of macabre or baroque taste, introducing the visitor to a suspended quiet as if he was entering a real sanctuary; on the other hand, the devotion of the people has somewhat mitigated the memento mori effect – not just on the account of those colorful, often ironic legends and myths surrounding the skulls, but also by elaborating the cult of the souls of Purgatory in a peculiar way, through unprecedented rules and rituals. Thus, adding to the wonder of thousands of piled up bones under the immense vault, one can feel a palpable devotion, transforming the skulls from figurations of mortality to symbols of transcendence.
Carlo Vannini‘s photographs plunge us into the enchanted atmosphere of the underground cathedral, revealing its gloomy charm and bringing us so close to the capuzzelle – bare or adorned with various votive offerings such as handkerchieves, little holy pictures, coloured rosary beads etc. – that their eyeholes seem to meet our eyes with a glance which is not less alive.
De profundis, with texts in Italian and English, will be available in Italian bookstores (and online retailers worldwide) from May 18th and will be officially launched at the Turin International Book Fair, with book signing sessions on May 16 th and 17 th.
If you are not going to attend the book fair, you can order your signed copy here, which will be shipped after the book fair is over, by May 25th.