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Hello, I am Manuela Piccolo!

Where are you from? What are you doing in Amsterdam?

I originate from Sicily, where I spent my formative years until the age of 18. Following this, I embarked on a journey northward, settling successively in Turin and then Milan. My academic pursuits initially led me to study architecture, which later evolved into a focus on contemporary art. While I once served as an art teacher in middle school, a desire for personal and professional growth prompted me to seek a change.

A year ago, I made a deliberate decision to relocate to Amsterdam, for its renowned cultural dynamism. True to expectations, I found myself immersed in a thriving artistic and cultural milieu, particularly within the vibrant community of Nieuw-West. It is within this context that I forged a collaboration with SAMA - Street Art Museum Amsterdam, where I am currently tasked with spearheading community programming at the Community Leaving Lab.

Can you tell something about the place where you come from?

I come from Sicily, the southernmost island of Italy. The Sicilian landscape is ingrained in the deepest fibers of my being. Growing up surrounded by its breathtaking scenery, infused with a passion for the sea and nature walks, perhaps it's from there that my pursuit of the sublime and beauty stems. Sicily is not only a place of food and tradition, but also a nest of music, literature, and the cradle of Greek civilization. To grow up there is to be shaped by a myriad of cultural influences, and while my bond with the land remains strong, my inherent curiosity has always driven me to explore and venture beyond. Having lived outside of Sicily for 15 years now, I find myself somewhat disconnected from the specifics of my origin, yet the essence of Sicily continues to resonate deeply within me.

What is your favorite activity/ the things you like to do during your free time?

As a dynamic individual, I'm constantly engaged in various activities that fuel my passions and keep me energized. I find solace and inspiration in the pages of a captivating book, where I can delve into different worlds and perspectives. At the gym, I embrace the challenge of crossfit, pushing my physical and mental limits to achieve personal growth and strength.

But my interests extend beyond the realm of literature and fitness. I have a deep appreciation for art and culture, which often leads me to spend hours wandering through museums and galleries, absorbing the creativity and expression of talented artists.

Moreover, I find joy and excitement in the vibrant night culture and the pulsating rhythm of the club scene. Dancing for me is not just a form of recreation, but a way to connect with others and express myself freely. It's not uncommon for me to transition seamlessly from an intense workout session in the morning to dancing away the night for hours on end.

What fascinates you the most about the city? About Nieuw-West?

What I find most captivating about Amsterdam is its dynamic atmosphere and the diverse array of people I've encountered. The city pulses with energy and creativity, offering endless opportunities for exploration and connection.

In particular, I'm drawn to the neighborhood of Nieuw-West for its cross-cultural environment and sense of community. It's a melting pot of cultures and ideas, where I've had the privilege of experiencing grassroots culture firsthand. The accessibility to cultural activities and the genuine interactions with residents have enriched my experience and deepened my understanding of the city, specifically for my research in the Night Culture Field.

What is your relationship to street art? Art in general?

I studied art because it serves as a conduit for the cultivation of culture and the creation of cultural initiatives that enrich and uplift society. Behind every artwork, there is an inherent search for meaning, a compelling necessity to express and communicate. Art not only reflects the diverse perspectives and experiences of humanity but also fosters empathy, understanding, and connection among individuals. It inspires dialogue, challenges perceptions, and encourages critical thinking, ultimately contributing to the advancement of society and the well-being of its people. 

My interest for street art is deeply rooted in its democratic nature. Street art belongs to the people, to the neighborhoods—it's a form of expression that transcends boundaries and exclusivity. It's not confined to the walls of galleries; instead, it flourishes on the streets, where it can be encountered by anyone, regardless of their background or social status. This accessibility is what captivates me the most.

Moreover, street art offers a multi-dimensional experience. It's not just about viewing a static piece; it's about engaging with it from various perspectives. You might catch a glimpse of a mural from your window as you sip your morning coffee, or you might stumble upon a thought-provoking piece while walking down the street. Even commuters on a bus ride can be surprised by the unexpected beauty of street art passing by their windows. This dynamic interaction with the urban environment is what makes street art so compelling to me.

What are your respontibilities at SAMA?

As a Community Leaving Lab Manager, my role encompasses not only welcoming and caring for individuals within our space but also ensuring that our events are tailored to the needs of our neighborhood. I am dedicated to programming, organizing, and implementing a diverse range of cultural initiatives at SAMA, spanning projects, education, and special events. Additionally, I am committed to conducting research on the tangible and intangible heritage within SAMA's collection, enriching our understanding and engagement with our cultural legacy.

artwork by LeDiana

Do you have a favourite artist in the

SAMA collection?

My favorite artist from the SAMA collection is LeDania. Diana Ordonez is a standout figure in the Bogota art scene. Beyond her captivating street art, she dabbles in photography, graphic design, advertising, and even artistic makeup. She has a knack for

incorporating her themes and motifs into various mediums like decorative items, clothing, and accessories, creating a distinctive visual language that's recognizable throughout Bogota, particularly in Chapinero. The name "LeDania" has a mythological origin, blending the Greek character Leda with Diana, her own name. She adopted this pseudonym at the age of fifteen, and it has since become her signature across all her works. LeDania holds a degree in Visual Arts from Universidad Javeriana. While she initially experimented with vinyl and acrylic, she found her true calling with aerosol seven years ago, taking her paintings and sketches to the streets. Central to her practice is a strong inclination towards improvisation, which often leads her in surprising directions, with animals, insects, and exotic spices from Tasmania serving as the main protagonists in her works. This improvisational approach not only infuses her art with spontaneity but also underscores her ability to adapt and evolve creatively.

What interests you most in the concept of SAMA?

What truly captivates me about SAMA is its profound emphasis on fostering a close relationship with the public. The museum's commitment to engaging with the local community and its tangible impact as a cultural hub within its neighborhood are particularly intriguing to me. SAMA isn't just a conventional museum; it's a contemporary eco-museum that prioritizes identity in conjunction with active local participation. Its mission extends beyond the confines of traditional art institutions, aiming instead to enhance the quality of life for residents through art as a catalyst for social dialogue. This approach resonates with me deeply, as it demonstrates a genuine dedication to enriching the cultural fabric of its surroundings while empowering individuals to actively participate in shaping their community's narrative.

artwork by LeDiana

Which artwork of the SAMA collection do you like the most?

Among the remarkable pieces in the SAMA collection, the works of OakOak stand out to me the most. Pieces like "Pacman," "Smile," and "Scared Plots on the Door" are particularly impactful. What draws me to OakOak's art is the way he ingeniously transforms mundane urban landscapes with minimal gestures. With just a few strokes, he manages to inject humor, wit, and a sense of whimsy into the environment, altering its very essence. I'm especially drawn to the way his art interacts with the streetscape, leaving a lasting impression on passersby and imbuing the surroundings with a sense of vitality and playfulness. OakOak's ability to evoke such powerful reactions with his art speaks volumes about the transformative power of street art and its ability to redefine our perception of public spaces.

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Its goal is to improve the lives of locals by using art to spark conversations about important social issues run 3

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