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Laika, Antonio Valerio Spera at the Rome Film Festival

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At the Rome Film Festival, Antonio Valerio Spera tiptoed into Laika’s life. The artist has deeply grasped the stakes of denunciation by masking his own identity. Life is (not) a game is the documentary dedicated to them.

Antonio Valerio Spera has chosen to explore the life of “a striker” who until a few years ago was known only in the Roman region, then became a celebrity thanks to his posters and murals made at night, who often say hello to the citizens of the capital and “disrupt” positions of power.

LaikaCourtesy of the press office

Laika is the mysterious author of a series of works that have been blooming on the walls of Rome for three years and which, in addition to the pseudonym, protect the identity with a white mask, a red wig and a digital distortion of the voice . It depicts social and political news, city icons and various characters, including Rome’s football heroes, his team. At the Rome Film Festival he is also the protagonist of the documentary Life is (not) a game, completed with a red carpet for which he has produced two works. A title that recalls how migrants define their attempt to enter the borders of European countries. So dangerous to be compared to a video game.

Exclusively at VelvetMAG Antonio Valerio Spera and Laika

The director of the documentary is the newcomer Antonio Valerio Spera professor and critic who explains to us: “The idea of ​​the film started from the character of Laika. I enjoyed his early works he made in 2019 and found it equally interesting that Laika walks around anonymously in disguise. I found this movie character, as a masked mugger who walks around at night doing illegal work. And I offered to start taking it back, she unexpectedly accepted. But the documentary was not then centered on the life of Laïka, but told in a certain way what we then lived and still live. Here, the point of view has changed. In fact, it didn’t become a documentary about Laika so much as about our times seen through the eyes of an artist.

I am not a virus – explains the director – is the work of Laika that has marked him the most: “I like the work dedicated to Sonia the Chinese restorer. Labor before the pandemic erupted when there was discrimination against the Chinese community in Italy. It was the work that drew media attention to Laika. And then I’m very attached to the work that Laika has done in Bosnia, mainly the one that titles the film. With this experience we had in Bosnia, I believe that Laika had the courage to denounce and focus attention on a subject that unfortunately still puts him on the back burner with the pandemic”.

Laïka, the documentary Courtesy of the press office

What does Life Is Not a Game leave to the public?

I hope that the public will be able to leave the room with food for thought, for discussion and that they will also be able to lead an internal debate and that they will be able to wonder about these last two years on all subjects. From the pandemic, but also to everything that Laika deals with, and that they can also do it with the spirit of Laika which is a sarcastic, ironic spirit. Sometimes light but letting out a complaint and a social anger.

LaikaCourtesy of the press office

Laïka and Bosnia: a central journey in Spera’s film

I also have the responsibility to bring my art to the red carpet, but especially my messages. Without a doubt, the film has a very important theme, I do not want to say that it is predominant, but the trip to Bosnia is a very central part of the film. And at a time like this when we still don’t know where we’re going to oppose in terms of government. My slogan (which I still shout, but this time even more so) is that all refugees are welcome.

Laika on the red carpetPhoto credits: Teresa Comberiati

Why did you choose to present art as a game?
The pun really touches both my personal aspect and then, of course, the central theme of the film. But behind my art has developed the desire to shed light on certain issues, such as human, civil and social rights. This is the summary of what I do. I have a very conscious political conscience.

Before Bosnia, Rome was an “open-air gallery”

I went to Bosnia for one of my needs, to see and talk to people who lived this theme. Above all, I was looking for the right frame, which I always do. Until recently, Rome was my open-air gallery.

Laika on the red carpetPhoto credits: Teresa Comberiati

It was therefore necessary to go there, and not only get dirty with glue. Listening to certain stories with my ears and putting them on paper and in turn telling what I had experienced in this experience. I came back much more aware that I was on the safe side. The important thing is to talk about it, to enlighten and help these people. We can hold all the speeches of political strategy, more or less legitimate, but there is a priority, which is the human being. The states of the European Union must take this into account, which is lacking in this place at the gates of Europe. If I have to think of memories instead, I still have in mind the sound of flip-flops in the snow of some guys who hadn’t yet succeeded in making shoes. It’s an unnatural sound.”

What does your mask represent?

“It’s a filter that leads me to be more direct. To have a chance to preserve my daily life. I have a normal life too. Behind Laika, there is a job, a studio. It is a neutral face on which one can imagine all or nothing so much so that it almost loses its importance. Almost like my face is influential. What is important is my message that I leave on the walls. My picture doesn’t let you in on the personal aspect because that’s irrelevant. These are the clothes I leave at home. To date, the transition has more or less taken place. Without a doubt, we are talking about an alter ego and now that I think about it, I still have a dialogue between me and me. It’s an inner dialogue and it’s two parts of my being that also help each other through dialogue. I take advantage of it, no doubt, but it’s not easy to be that and to do that activity. Every time I move it’s a workout”.

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