You take a step forward.
You get closer.
You fix your gaze, searching for differences, but, in the end, find only similarities.
The Syrian fashion designer who produces dresses for princesses while dreaming about France; the Iraqi barber who left Bollywood; the Arab family who rebuilt their home inside the camp; the Kurdish kid who wants to open his own metalware store; the old man, almost executed by Isis, saved by his neighbour.
Fraught destinies, full of stories, dreams and parables, incapable of discouraging those protagonists who live this theatre of horror and moments of joy.
Look into my eyes and tell me who you are.
Çavên — meaning ‘eyes’ in Kurdish — is a non-narrative step closer to the reality of those whose lives are repeatedly mis-portrayed on TV.
For over a month, it was my privilege to have been made welcome in three camps, as if an old friend, by Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian, Muslim and Christian, Arab and Kurdish, refugee and IDP hosts.
Ethnicities, religions, labels.
And yet always two eyes.
Generations enslaved by conflict and divisions are nevertheless ceaseless performers of our communal dreams: a better future, a decent job, peace.
In leaving with my heart full to overflowing, the thank you list this time has become very long.
I would like to thank:
UPP for having supported this mission, during such a precarious moment, without a second thought on more than one occasion, and for protecting us from those who tried in vain to hinder us.
All the staff at Erbil with special thanks to Lia, the big boss, to Number “A” Hisham, my dear cousin Nadir, my bros Mohannad, Hardi and Hoshyar, also to Haitham, Salah and Lena, and Princess Miriam.
All the staff at Sulaymaniah, especially incognito Juventus supporter Sergio, Aunt Ilaria, from whom there's always a lot to learn, new big boss and juggler Tommaso, social MacGyver Shwan, the brightest star, Haneen, kaka Nawzad, gaga Paola, my pupil Sami, who's now called to do his very best, and Nael with his Italian-American Dream.
All the staff at Barika, fabulous Shahnaz, dearest Suhaila and her fantastic family, Khalil and Masoud.
Jamil, who never held himself back, doing more than we could have ever hoped, for sharing evenings together talking about war, peace and religion.
Federico for being such an ideal travel companion and having the curiosity to try new things, always with a smile on his face, despite the heavy workload and little sleep.
Teddy and Cecilia for believing and supporting such a dreamer; I'm learning from the importance of your endeavour.
And finally to Novella, who looked right into my eyes.
Now it’s time for a new chapter.
Anna and Marco, you're on my mind. Silvia and Sabina, you're next in line.
Teddy and Cecilia, Stefano and Simone, let's have fun!
PS. I'm really sorry about the cans of tuna. At the time of writing, no-one knows what happened to them... But we’ve got people working on it!
He plays music, writes words, works wood.
He'll be back soon.
It was 9AM, November 15th 2016.
At that time my destination was a secret which just a bunch of friends were aware of. I didn’t want one particular person I haven’t met yet, to know that I was walking to her, as my dreams suggested me to do in spring. I’ve been waiting five months that moment and, in the meanwhile, I prepared myself for the trip.
So I thought, at least.
I left the home of my dear friend Francesco in Gemona del Friuli, in Northern East Italy, with a backpack and the most comfortable and resistant shoes I had, in a sharp and biting cold day.
When I moved the first steps I had the feeling that I was starting something immensely bigger than I’ve been able to imagine in the previous months, and still, I was unaware that this journey would turn out to be the most incredible experience of my life.
This message is for you: hosts and encounters, more or less accidental, who offered me a shelter or a meal and, what is most important, your time and your stories.
One of the reasons who moved me to take this long walk was to test the level of fear and individualism that today, maybe more than ever, is spread across the western world. The good news is that thanks to you all, to your kindness and curiosity, not only you helped a peregrine reach his destination, but you performed the revolutionary act of leaving the doors of your home open.
And because of this, beside gratitude, I utterly feel admiration for you all.
For long time I've been open to change my route, if fate would have suggested so, as the dreams put me on the road, but the road was always driving me to the present, step after step and, although I've been thinking and wondering wether to change my plan in more than one circumstance, I finally reached my goal, Almeria, in the South of Spain, on January 27th after about 1.800 km on foot.
I’ve been rescued by sailors, bit by a dog, slept in woods, abandoned houses and caravans, hosted by hippies and families... I’ve learnt a lot, thanks to you all, about my limits and about this wonderful show called ”human being”. You've been challenging my points of view and, by sharing a slice of your life with me, I had the privilege to taste comedy and tragedy from the very first row.
You’ll always be welcome in my home, anywhere this will be.
I've found many treasures on the way. Some have been surprises, some others confirmations and, even though just a few words and some images of such a long trip aren’t enough to tell this story, my present for you is a list of what I’ve learned along this odyssey on foot. I’m sharing this list in the spirit of whom have received something important and wants to give it back.
As for the dreams, and what happened when I finally arrived to Almeria, there was no happy ending, and there was no ending either: the story is all yet to be written!
thoughts from a peregrine
(This list is subjective, as this whole experience)
- When you're offered help, accept it. Always. Push pride aside and try to understand how to optimize the gift you were given.
- Smile and kindness are contagious.
- Money come and go. Time just goes.
- Adventure is like future: is inside of us and nowhere else.
- To keep long time alive a fire you need the right ratio of thin, mid, thick, dry and fresh wood.
- People love to dream more than they recall or are aware of.
- Pricking a blister from side to side and leaving inside a wire is great to leave the liquid bleeding out and avoiding the blisters to reform once again.
- Leave the place where you have been hosted, is it indoor or outdoor, like or better than how you found it when you arrived.
- Don't create debts.
- Visualize, don't idealize.
- Plan accurately and be always ready to improvise.
- Don’t be shy while asking.
- Patience is a very nobel virtue and it requires discipline to be improved.
- You receive what you give.
- When you’re offered a chance, grab it!
- True hunger, like cold, are things for poor people (and they are very hard).
- Chewing chocolate in the delicate moments helps you keep calm.
- Falling into the trap of judging is very easy and harmful.
- After 500 kilometers your arse becomes marble.
- Intuition is fundamental and learning how to listen to it isn’t easy, nor impossible.
- When you’re in front of a wall, seek for the crack (there’s always one!)
- Dreams give you inspiration. Inspiration can change reality. Reality, finally, is the only music you can dance, and you always have to accept it.
- To dream means having the courage to believe in what you’re capable of imagine.
Oltre il muro (Beyond The Wall) is an experimental documentary shot in Gemona del Friuli.
Friuli, one part of the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, located on the Northern East of Italy, was struck by several earthquakes in 1976. About 1000 people died and more than 100.000 were displaced.
The video depicts the spirit of the people and their incredible reaction to the catastrophic events through the words and actions of some of the witnesses of Gemona, and highlights how that spirit was transferred to the new generations.
Shot in winter 2016 - Gemona del Friuli, Italy
Niente Paura (No Fear) is a street art project which aims to stimulate multi-ethnical dialogue through participative work and creativity.
The reportage documents the project, explains the life in the IDP's camps and the framework in which UPP operates in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Special thanks to Sergio Dalla Ca' Di Dio, Giulia Cappellazzi, Carlotta Macera, Mattia Campo Dall'Orto, Sami Alali, Ali Taha Al Hashmy, Teeba Mohamed, Hardi Fazel Jaff.
Shot in 2016 - Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan
The Italian industry of arms wish you all a 2017 full of prosperity and love.