By Annalisa Nicastro

We are made of emotions and stardust. Empathy and randomness play a very important role in life just as they do in soccer and art, two worlds only seemingly very distant. This is demonstrated by the project 'Art and Football: let's contaminate each other' strongly desired by Zerynthia - Association for Contemporary Art OdV with the FIGC, created to foster the exchange of mutual identities, encouraging a stimulating dialogue that can involve and enthuse the younger generations. It is a true cultural revolution that has led, for the first time in history, to open the doors of the Federal Technical Center to contemporary art, transforming it into a unique gallery with the intervention, over time, of different artistic sensibilities that enrich the Home of the National Teams with their works scattered in those spaces. Coverciano from a closed and impenetrable place welcomes a community development project. It was June 12, 2023 when the project's debut was entrusted to painter, sculptor and artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, one of the masters of Arte Povera and 20th-century Art, who was enthusiastically welcomed by FIGC president Gabriele Gravina. The Third Paradise installation, placed at the entrance to Coverciano and created by Pistoletto, is composed of 100 marble spheres, reminiscent of soccer balls, all in different colors to emphasize the universal language that links soccer to art, both of which are able to unite different cultures and personalities with the utmost freedom of expression. Each with its own nuance.

"When I find myself explaining to children the three circles of the Symbol of Creation I take up the theme of football, in one circle there is a team, in the opposite circle another team and in the center of the circle, in the middle, there is the ball which is chance. The ball is what is at stake not human life and everyone tries to bring their intelligence and ability to the highest degree by playing with chance, with that ball the game is activated that today sees us on the field competing together to direct chance to a new stage of humanity. (...). So-called sports cheering sees masses of people pitted against each other verbally to participate in the game of creation extended to the whole of society. One could say that this is a ritual participation, even a spiritual one where creation is not understood in a transcendent sense but in an immanent one, the faculty of creation is thus to be applied in the game of life." Pistoletto's words explain the Formula of Creation, the central theme of his research. The artist adds a third circle in the center to the mathematical sign of infinity. The two outer circles represent all diversity and antinomies, including nature and artifice. The central one is the interpenetration between the opposite circles and represents the generative womb of the new humanity, the symbol of the Third Paradise.

1 e 1= 3

"For Michelangelo Pistoletto, the two soccer teams meet in the field, not clash, and for this reason the symbol of the sphere is understood as a sign of peace, of play, of the meeting of opposites," says Mario Pieroni, President of Zerynthia, who continues, "for many, soccer is art, but even for skeptics, turning the question on its head, soccer can be a vehicle for making a work of art."

Soccer is part of our popular culture, it strengthens the community part by building the identity part of individuals, and it is a tool that can get fundamental educational and training values to young people, who are our future. That is why the project also continues with workshops on civic education and active citizenship involving secondary and junior high schools. The workshops, curated by Zerynthia and Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto Onlus, are based on play, not only seen in its ludic form but as a learning experience to foster the development and consolidation of knowledge and skills related to the proposed themes.
We seem to hear the echo of Roberto Mancini's voice as he appears in the classroom of the workshops to tell the boys and girls to have fun because soccer is first and foremost fun as well as identity formation, community, culture and a source of well-being (as he explains in the pages of L'Invincibile Estate).


Photo credits: Gino Di Paolo