by Giuseppe Pitrolo
“In the resounding joy of the faithful for the Risen Christ.
in the simulacrum of that shiny naked body thrown in the air,
swirled within the church of Scicli,
we can read the eternal story of rebirth, of joy, of the Gioia,
fleeing every mourning, every sorrow, every darkness of man’s frigid winter”
This is what Consolo wrote about the Risen Christ of Scicli.
The “Gioia” of Scicli is a party continuously changing and however remaining faithful to itself, always different and always the same, perpetually surprising and fascinating: we have better understood the motives of its charm thanks to the photos of Andrea Scarfò.
Movement, unpredictability, the becoming, transformation are the main characteristic of Gioia: in one word life. And “life is beautiful” because it blends death and life, tears and laughers, pain and joy…Scarfò approaches to “Gioia” through the baroque “metamorphism” (Getto) of Shakespeare and Eliot, through the “carnival” of Bachtin: his look on it is displacing because he reverses roles. As for the “scandal” of Christianity, in which the oxymoron “and God became flesh” is effected: already Auerbach noticed that with Christianity the up becomes down, realizing in art the “mixture of styles”. Calaciura notices how with “Gioia” the inhabitants of Scicli “are informal with God”.
With Christ’s death “the veil of time was torn” and there was an earthquake: Scicli is a strong small town, risen more beautiful after the earthquake of 1693: a town continuously in progress, and in which the past is enhanced through Baroque, UNESCO, folk traditions, and, at the same time, actuality is glorified through the Group of Scicli and the fiction “Montalbano”: life goes on, at Scicli: our town has never stopped: our town runs and never gets tired. And in Gioia we can find the same strength, which is the same explosive energy of its bringers: because light wins on mourning, life on death, “orior” on “m-orior” (G. Dormiente).
And even the photos of Scarfò are full of life, rage, taken to displace: the magmatic chaos of the party is highlighted by the shots: Scarfò wanted to realize something with the energy and hope typical of this party; therefore he used a colourful and extreme language, because the viewer of “U Gioia” knows that he can become an actor whenever he wants, transporting the statue and transported by it. This is way the stylistic choice of the photos aims to enhance the close-ups and the controlled blurred, and to “hit”.
Bufalino defines Sicily with the words “light and mourning”: but western Sicily and eastern Sicily have different ways of “mourning” and “celebrating”, with the prevalence of light on mourning in the Ionic Sicily (as for other Spring Parties of Scicli: the dionysiac The Ride of Saint Joseph and the displacing Madonna on the houseback). Therefore, Scarfò has chosen the evidence of the unseen, so that the island is not only a grave, but also a womb. The floating of the Gioia corresponds to the alternation of death and life: the photos give the impression of the “baroque waving” : it seems as if the big masks have come to the square of Scicli, in the form of men and bringers.
The Gioia creates an alchemy blending humanity with divine, sublime with the chaos of flesh and blood, trying to break the limits of reality.
“Light and mourning”, of course, but our mourning is full of light, Mediterranean, Greek. Christ is excess and exception: that is way he can put us in difficulty, because each Man can be God. As Vinicio Capossela sings:
“He has left the shroud and the ordeal
he has left the cross and the sorrow
He has lifted off sleep from himself and now and forever forever he will be with us
If the Eternal Father had abandoned him
now the villagers have stared after him
What a big party being able to embrace him
What a great party taking him to eat (…)
He is crazy with joy, he is an alive man ..”.