Design Appropriate Insults To Fight Them
Designgraphic designqueer

Appropriate Insults To Fight Them

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Giorgia Massari
dario manzo

An operation that we had already seen with Vanadio23 and which is indeed effective. Appropriating insults becomes one of the ways to fight them, perhaps the most effective because it is able to transform their perception. Taking an insult and transforming it is equivalent to saying: ‘it doesn’t hurt any more because now this word is mine and I use it as I want’. We are talking in particular about discrimination and verbal abuse against the Queer community and, specifically, the works of Dario Manzo, who performs this operation through super-coloured and ironic graphics. The project is called FAGS, Dario explains that «‘fag’ in English slang is the equivalent of ‘frocio’ in Italian, but here it takes on a new meaning. “FAGS” becomes an acronym for “Fightin’ Against Gay Slurs”, that is, fighting against gay insults». A real appropriation that takes its example from the one implemented by the LGBTQIA+ community in the 1990s, when they turned the word Queer, used negatively to mean ‘strange, unusual, eccentric’, into a statement to be proud of.

dario manzo

With the FAGS project, Dario Manzo gives life to twenty-eight artworks in the form of posters, to become an active tool for propaganda and awareness-raising. «The protagonist of each poster is the insult reinterpreted through the medium of irony and pride,» Dario explains. «The texts inside the posters are in various languages (Italian, English, French, German and Japanese), giving particular attention to Italian and its dialects, to underline the capillarity of this kind of insult.» There is no shortage of the most common insults, such as ‘checca’ or ‘finocchio’, but we also find various dialects, including some posters in Sicilian. One for example reads: ‘arrusu sì, ma contro la DC‘ (arrusu yes, but against the DC), openly inspired by a poster of a FUORI! demonstration in 1977.

Remaining in Sicilian territory, we read: ‘Puppu ‘cco bullu, ma duci comu u zuccaro‘, which with great sadness reminds us of the double murder of a gay couple in the 1980s in Giarre, near Catania, now famous for having started the first real contemporary Italian homosexual movement. ‘Puppu ‘cco bullu’ refers in particular to the nickname given at the time to one of the two young men, Giorgio Agatino Giammona, who years earlier had been denounced because he had been caught during a homosexual act and for this reason ‘branded’ by the authorities, hence ‘gay with a stamp’. This is a dramatic reflection that underlines how an insult is also quietly juxtaposed to dramatic facts, without caring about the weight these words have on the members of the community. The operation of Dario Manzo and all those who actively fight for this re-appropriation becomes essential to discredit the aggressors and deprive them of this power.

FAGS was realised with the visual and conceptual contribution of the magazine FUOR! (Fronte Unitario Omosessuale Rivoluzionario Italiano) and Testi Manifesti by Marco Petrucci.

Courtesy Dario Manzo

Designgraphic designqueer
Written by Giorgia Massari
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