GABRI VIVE

A GROUP OF FRIENDS FROM THE ISOLOTTO NEIGHBOURHOOD IN FLORENCE GET TOGETHER WITH UNITED PAINTING AND THE AMAZING ANNA TARATIEL TO TRANSFORM A ENTIRE SQUARE IN THEIR COMMUNITY INTO A GIANT MEMORIAL FOR THEIR LOST FRIEND

Earlier in 2020 we were approached by the municipality of Florence to realise a new community artwork. Contacts had already been made during our academy event in 2019 at The Student Hotel. In the meantime, there has also been a collaboration with the University of Florence, so that the city has become a well-known paintground for us with a growing network. Because of Covid-19, the trip had to be postponed, but as soon as it was able to proceed, the team traveled to Florence.

The artwork had to be painted on a square in the middle of the Isolotto neighborhood (the fourth quarter) of Florence: Pista Pattinaggio. All in close collaboration with local residents and with local organisation Cepiss. The square measured approximately 400m2;  Isolotto is a neighbourhood where many second generation migrants live, from the south of Italy as well as from Macedonia and Albania.

For this project we decided to collaborate with Spanish artist Anna Taratiel. The starting point was a participation process in which both design and implementation would be tackled together with the local residents. This time it was extra sensitive, because of a tragic accident of a young local resident. On July 8, 2019, 15-year-old Gabriele “Gabri” Vadal√† was killed in a scooter accident near the square. This event caused enormous grief in the entire neighbourhood. Gabri’s loss had sparked something in the community and it was decided that an artwork on the square would be dedicated to him.

Friends and family asked whether the design could be submitted to them in advance. The concept of United Painting, however, is to create this together during a workshop on site, prior to the actual painting. This caused complex communication in the preliminary phase, not only because of the distance and the language barrier, but also because it was a delicate subject. It was made clear that whatever the design would be, Gabri’s father’s tattoo should be incorporated, as would certain colors related to Gabri and words like “famiglia Q4”.

The first day, we talked a lot with everybody involved, mostly with the youngsters. Ana meanwhile collected all the input she heard and made a proposal for a design on the spot that was presented in the evening during a design workshop organised for all the people involved in the painting. After the presentation, a lively discussion arose. In the end, it was decided to adjust the color palette: the colors of his hometown Palermo had to return, just like those of his favorite football club Napoli, his home Florence and the Isolotto district. At the heart of the design, Gabri’s father’s tattoo is represented.

On the last morning Ana suggested leaving the last part of the artwork entirely to the youngsters to finish. On return, the artwork was completely finished. With great dedication, Gabri’s friends had turned the square into a beautiful artwork. It was an emotional day for everyone involved to see the end result, the tribute for their beloved friend and a community artwork with an extra dimension.

A lot of involvement was shown throughout the process; people from all levels of the municipality visited the square during the week. The artwork, the story and how it came about made it to several local newspapers. The square was officially inaugurated on July 8, 2020