Violence is the only thing you understand, therefore we will use your own language
In 1970, in a tavern in Pecorile , a small town located in the mountains between the central Italian regions of Tuscany and Emilia, a few men meet in front of a plate and a bottle of wine. Together they found the first nucleus of the Red Brigades, the armed organization that would become the leading figure of the ten-year period of violence also known as “Gli Anni di Piombo”(literaly, the Years of Lead)
During that year, the Red Brigades became politically active in some of the largest industries in Northern Italy. Their first actions look quite tame when compared to the ferocity that characterized their future activities. Their primary aim was to oppose to the “legal” violence of the State apparatus, yet they did so in a way which today looks as naïve.
In 1970, for instance, the Red Brigades set on fire the car of Giuseppe Leoni, a manager of the Sit-Siemens in Milan. They also organized a number of robberies in order to fund future actions. The strategic killings and the attacks to the safety of the Italian State which characterized their coming actions was still not in sight. 1970 is also the year in which large students protests were still taking place. That is also the year in which Saverio Saltarelli, a student of modest origins, got killed by the police during a demonstration commemorating the bomb attack of Piazza Fontana (which had killed the year before 17 victims in central Milan) and the killing of anarchist Pinelli. Saverio got hit in the chest by a tear gas canister that smashed his heart.
This video explores the first meeting of Pecorile, the demonstrative attack against Giuseppe Leoni’s car and the murder of Saverio Saltarelli. Such exploration stems from actual events that carry the germ of the reason of State. It also follows the ideologies, existential conditions and, more generally, the social and political contingencies that marked the Anni di Piombo.
The video is indeed full on contradictions. It is a provocatory work aiming to present the good intentions which urged these young individuals to enter clandestinity in the name of the revolution and of social justice. These young revolutionaries, I suggest, pursued what seemed to them to be the only escape from a future world marked by poverty and exploitation (a world so similar to that in which their parents or grand-parents had grown).
They were looking for a decent life. They had been victims of State violence since they were born and had decided to render back to the State that same violence they suffered.
Personally I do not know what it means to arm oneself at age 20. However, I tried to understand what this may mean while also bringing back to life the atmosphere of those years and find a fil rouge in such a complex and controversial story. After all “we are history” and even if we did not live the events in person, it is our duty to confront ourselves with such delicate subjects.
The history of armed struggle in Italy, (regardless whether left or right winged), is still a open wound which testifies to the cruelty of the political, economic and social system. Despite its local character, this story joins together people who, at different latitudes and in different times, decide to react to oppression.
Our video pays tribute to those years. It is tribute to those individuals who made mistakes that we still do have the duty to understand also for the purpose of not repeating them again.
The video was produced by the Ex-Asilo Filangieri of Naples, a production centre that on March the 2nd 2012 was liberated with the help of a symbolic occupation. Since then this building hosts a community of artists and workers who claim, and experiment with, new rules of coexistence and self-determination between citizens and the State. This is an attempt of learning from history while avoiding to commit the same errors that were made in the past.
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