Who are "The Ultra Men?" - Our interview with Nicola Feninno
[We posted on Artwave.it our interview with Nicola Feninno, editorial director of CTRL Magazine. Courtesy of the portal, we report it here exactly as it was published. The volume can be purchased with free shipping on Frab's Magazines at this link]
It is a small object, with an ancient and precious appearance: the canvas cover, the silver engravings, the photo applied by hand. And then, line after line, words also run after each other with an ancient flavor, because the sense of the narrative is ancient, the truest one that ignores algorithms and sensationalisms to open up to the story and to the long format.
Between the pages, 11 ultra-men are told by as many human beings: cyborgs, aliens, cloistered nuns, cryopreservatives, thanatoestheticians, horoscope sellers and smoke sellers, overly sensitive people, doctors in the operating room, speleologists. All for a concentration of humanity that opens the mind.
“THE Terrestrial ULTRA-MEN of Italy in contact with other dimensions”, this is the complete title of the second volume of the series edited by CTRL. It is enough to read the first stories, or perhaps even the first pages, to realize that we are talking about men who are "ultra", but not in the Niccian sense of the term. In short, no modern superman or hero, the ultra-men told in the book are ordinary people: a bizarre neighbor or a transhumanist geek, whose extraordinary life (in the sense of out of the ordinary) makes no noise and does not turn on the spotlight.
Intrigued, or perhaps it would be better to say kidnapped by the book, we interviewed Nicola Feninno, editorial director of CTRL che Tuesday 18 June (7.30 pm) will be at Slow Bar of Rimini together with the creators of Frab’s Magazines and More to talk about its volume and what it means to do independent publishing today.
Nicola, what is the genesis of the book?
"Ultra it has a double track of meaning: on the one hand it indicates people who go beyond human borders, but at the same time that prefix indicates who is very human.
It all started with two anniversaries that fell in 2019: the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s voyage in the Pacific Ocean and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. A double anniversary that tells us about monumental people, who somehow they have gone down in history, but we were interested in looking around Italy for Michael Collins. "
I candidly admit my ignorance of this name, but I believe that its being little known is precisely the point of the matter ...
"Yes, that's right, I realize more and more that few people know him, yet Michael Collins is one of the three astronauts on Apollo 11, the man who has moved further away from the Earth's surface in human history and despite this he has remained for the public a stranger. He has been alone in orbit around the Moon, circled around it about 26 times, in perfect solitude, while Armstrong and Aldrin took glory and cameras. It was he who led the group home, to Earth. Discovering that there is a character out of the radar even on Apollo 11 was surprising for us, for this Collins, who is still alive (he was born in Rome in 1930), has become a bit our saint, our god. protect that guides us and inspires us to go around Italy to discover other strangers whose lives are worth being told. "
How were the eleven stories told in the book selected?
“It was a very collaborative work, the idea was born in the editorial office, while the stories are born from the proposals of the writers and collaborators contacted, while others are stories that we knew and wanted to deepen. I'll give you an example: the story of Ortensia Squillace, the Calabrian lady, postal employee, who at 40 decides to become a wrestler we already knew her and we turned to Maura Chiulli to write about it because she seemed the most suitable person. Maura, in fact, a bit like Ortensia with wrestling, decided after university to become a fire eater. "
So she is ultra in a way too?
“Yes, but not only. The similarities between Maura and Ortensia also concern their origins, both come from a small town in the south of Italy, and their relationship with their father who will somehow influence their choices and which also returns in the case of the female wrestler. In this case, therefore, having found the story, we looked for the most suitable pen to deliver it to. But in most of the stories it was the writers, once they heard the title and theme of the book, who proposed them. This was the case, for example, with Paolo Zardi who told about a kidney transplant, not only because a transplant in itself is already something ultra, but also because Lucrezia Furian, the doctor that Paolo follows for days into the operating room, he is really a person to whom different human lives pass through his hands every day, all as if it were a normal job. She doesn't feel like a heroine. In any case, there was a great collaboration with the writers, we weren't interested in making a catalog of strange people and I think reading the book makes it clear what is the common thread running through it. "
Not a catalog of strange people, yet there are some characters outside the lines. For example, the "Alien Next Door" talks about a man who has never worked in his life, the keeper of flower power survives by selling horoscopes.
"When I contacted Donato Novellini and explained the idea to him, almost by chance or coincidence he was leaving the house and said to me:" stop, I already have the character for you ". And it was really his neighbor. I found Bert's story interesting because we didn't want to tell stories of super men, we really like the idea that your neighbor can also be an extraordinary person in his own way. In Bert, the protagonist of the story told by Novellini, his ultrahuman component consists in being a Lombard from the lower Po valley who has never worked in his life and yet stands still. From his point of view, the strange and alienating thing is to give eight hours a day of his life to someone else. And this is something that is repeated a bit in all stories: the strange ones, the ultrahuman ones are us, not them. "
Gli Ultrauomini is the second book in a series that comes from CTRL Magazine (to read cittierreelle and not control). CTRL was born in 2009 as a local free press, it was a sort of aggregator of events. In short, very different from what your necklace is today.
“The origins are those, but well taken CTRL has transformed by embracing more and more the literary genre until it is totally absorbed. On a local scale we survived thanks to advertisements, by switching to the national we lost advertisers, but on the other hand we gained a wider audience that showed us its affection when we risked closing. "
Yes, because at a certain point CTRL, in order not to have to declare “bankruptcy”, tried the path of crowdfounding and it was a success.
"Yes, with crowdfounding we collect about 15,000 euros, more than we expected, with that money we finance our first book entitled, not surprisingly," We are disappearing ", a statement that has a double reading and also evokes the particular situation that was experiencing CTRL. "
CTRL and then your books have definitely consecrated you to the genre of narrative reportage that is hardly found around.
“We realized this is what we enjoyed doing. It is something very simple that today does not find space even for reasons of myopia: you give the public what you think it might like, perhaps because you think the reader is a little more stupid than the producer. On the other hand, we think that the reader is more sensitive and intelligent than us, not to offer him a pre-digested meal, but something that can really enrich him. Probably when there is a wave that goes all in one direction, fast and flat on banality, it is natural that there is an undertow, an equal and opposite force, a slice of readers who feel orphaned by a type of narrative slower and more lateral and less fast-food. "
I close with a question that should not be asked: among the eleven presented in Gli Ultrauomini, which is your favorite story?
"I can't answer because there isn't one I prefer, but I can say that there is one that embodies the meaning of the whole book and it is the reportage by Giulia Callino, the youngest of our authors, who passed two days in the cloistered monastery of Santa Chiara, where 19 women live in silence in the heart of Milan. It is representative of CTRL because we are telling you about Milan, one of the most chaotic and cosmopolitan cities in Italy, but we will show you that even in a city of this type there are hidden worlds. "
On the cover: a presentation image of "Gli Ultrauomini", courtesy of CTRL Magazine
Article and interview by Anna Frabotta published on the Artwave portal on June 16, 2019 courtesy of the Artwave portal.