Napoli in the Unmapped Practice of Le Nemesiache: A Feminist Gazetteer
June 2014, a publication produced at the Royal Collge of Art in London (Critical Writing in Art and Design Award).
Napoli in the Unmapped of Le Nemesiache gives voice to the untold story of a feminist collective that shaped the landscape of Napoli in the 70s and 80s, le Nemesiache, while unveiling its inspiring relevance for today. The vigour, contradictions, personality and very soul of the city permeated through the group's activity and determined the character of their political and artistic practice. Le Nemesiache's methods, the enactments of their ideas, as well as their unique ways of interacting with and embracing their environment represent an exceptional case. Their multiform approach to society and their interventions in Napoli were distinct from any other feminist activity in Italy and internationally, then as now. At present their work risks being irremediably lost.
Napoli in the Unmapped of Le Nemesiache is a supplement to women's art and history. It gathers together essays, transcriptions from films and performances as well as interviews, extracts from original and unpublished texts, tracing the history of this undiscovered feminist phenomenon through the streets where it emerged and acted. Their inner territory is described as expanding to the outer topography of Napoli, forming a region where female creativity finds unpredictable routes. With this direction, the narrative moves from exposing public affair to intimate setting; the language is an elegant conveyor of facts as well as experiences:
"It is difficult to detect the moment when a house, a simple place delimited by walls, stops being a mere container of things and begins to take on the features of the people who inhabit it – and through which it can be said to live –, thus starting its great metamorphosis. Behind the door of house number 308 in via Posillipo that change was something unequivocal and irrevocable".
The different sections of this publication are arranged like entries of a geographical dictionary: houses, natural elements, public spaces and collapsing buildings of Napoli open up to discussions on feminist duration. The performances by the collective, their films and political pamphlets emerge as being the precious receptacles of the history of a city over a certain period of time. Their peculiarity was an imperative; "only by spilling out from the margins of society, a new temporary perimeter could be erected".
Map and images from the publication, in collaboration with Le Nemesiache's archive and the designers Despina Rangou and Signe Emma