Where did you get the idea for Squadra Diaspora?
As an artist I work a lot on identity and heritage. I was born in France in 1990 in an Italian family and national team games are like a family meeting for us. I realised it was the same in the USA, Canada, Uruguay or Germany.
I wanted to talk about the Italian migration in the world and the power of the national team to unify all these communities. Maybe it’s the only thing in the world able to unify Italian people like this.
In 2015 I was invited for an exhibition in Belgium ‘Foot-Fair-Play’, and was asked to make a new artwork, so I decided to make Diaspora. In Belgium there are a lot of ‘children’ of Italian migration.
Do you see the overlap between fashion and football growing?
Yes, in 2015 when I started the project, I didn’t know other projects by designers or artists talking about football. But in the last 2-3 years I have seen many. A lot are by talented graphic designers, like Angelo Trofa. Some are ‘lifestyle’ projects like Guerrilla FC or Le Ballon. And there are a few ‘contemporary art’ projects like Diaspora or AS Velasca.
I think it’s very beautiful, this new generation of people from design to marketing and art working on football – because it is universal and linked to (almost) all social groups in the world.
How would you describe football culture in Italy?
In Italy, football is as important as religion and politics. Sometimes it is the same thing, football becomes religion and politics. Italy can’t live without football, but they are first linked to their club and sometimes with the National team. Italians are proud of their city or region and there is a big rivalry between north and south, between cities and inside cities.
Abroad it’s different. For Italian people in France or USA, the national team is much more important because there’s a very strong link with their homeland. Puma sells 88% of Italy kits abroad, first in USA (20%), then Italy (12%) and France (11%).
How did the design of the shirt come together?
In the 50’s and 60’s, Italian migration was very important. So, I designed the shirt to pay tribute to the Italy shirts of those times. Long sleeves, round collar and thick fabric. With a blue that has appeared many times in the history of the Italy national team.
Then, I searched the statistics about Italian people around the world and created the map drawing to illustrate this.
Who was your favourite recipient of the shirt?
The project is based on the human side. I had many beautiful experiences with Diaspora. I was proud to give shirts to my grandmothers. The same pride before the production of the shirt when I showed to my grandfather the article by La Gazzetta dello Sport – just a few days before his death.
I developed a beautiful friendship with Nicola Sansone with this project, he represents exactly the idea. An Italian born in Germany to a Italian family. Football transmitted by his father, who immigrated for work. And the love for Italian football and the national team. The pride to play for Italy.
Nicola is a very good guy and I named him as the symbolic captain of the Squadra Diaspora. But, also when I met the world champion 2006 born in UK Simone Perrotta, it was crazy. Very nice guy too.
What’s coming next?
With A.S. Velasca, we are planning a game between the 2 art projects on the 9th June 2018. I have to manage my team and I want to mix professional players, like Sansone and Perrotta, with people of Italian migration – journalists, restaurant owners, etc. This is the outcome of the Diaspora project.
I also started a new project linked to football called Federation of Artists Football Players. I want to invite artists to make an art piece with the football shirt as a medium, in this collective project.
It will be interesting to invite artists linked to football – but also not linked to football – and see what they want to express on the subject. What football means in their eyes. The first artists invited are my classmates and professors at Ecole Supérieure d’Art de Lorraine, my art school. Among the professors there are international artists like Marco Godinho. The result is coming for march or April.