Photography Andrés Juan Suarez recounts San Giovanni di Galermo

Andrés Juan Suarez recounts San Giovanni di Galermo

Anna Frattini

Andrés Juan Suarez spent a month in San Giovanni di Galermo with Manuel, known as Zooka, a rapper from Catania who has always lived in the working-class neighborhood on the northwest outskirts of the city. We’ve seen Suarez’s photographs many times before and even written about them here, but in this project – San Giovanni 142 – what struck us about his shots is the narrative strength that emerges in depicting Zooka’s relationship with music. It encapsulates everything: social redemption, passion, family ties, and a strong sense of belonging. Andrés Juan Suarez’s narrative – he too being from Catania – unfolds through his street-style but simultaneously documentary language, which paints a discerning portrait of San Giovanni Galermo.

The Atmosphere of San Giovanni 142

The series begins with the portrayal of the neighborhood, the buildings, the animals – dogs and horses – up to the arrival at Zooka’s home. The atmospheres aren’t gloomy but depict a place that is indeed working-class yet full of hope, where there is also room for music. Zooka began his artistic journey right among these buildings, writing on paper and showing the results to Suarez. There are also familial influences that make this series much deeper than a simple neighborhood tale.

The History of San Giovanni di Galermo

San Giovanni di Galermo boasts ancient origins, dating back to even the Roman domus, and it is said that the city’s patron saint – Saint Agatha – was born or lived precisely in those areas. The construction of public housing, however, began after the Second World War when many residents of Catania decided to move and occupy the apartments in San Giovanni Galermo. Today, the neighborhood hosts the largest drug dealing square in the Catania hinterland – especially in Via Capo Passero, where Zooka lives – and in Via Ustica. However, Andrés Juan Suarez’s images tell another, more human and yet true side of this area through the experience of a young man chasing the dream of music.

ph. courtesy Andrés Juan Suarez

Written by Anna Frattini
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