by Nidaa Badwan
THE DIVINE COMEDY OF DANTE
It all started last year, when I decided to participate in a mask-making workshop that had Dante's Divine Comedy as its theme.
This was the entry into the game.
The workshop, proposed by FAMASCHERE and led by Fede, an artist creator of masks for the italian Commedia dell’Arte, started what I am going to tell you.
The first part of the workshop concerned Hell.
To be able to create a mask of hell, Fede spoke of Dante's hell.
He explained a little about the color of the face and the "devilish" expression they must have had.
At that moment it was easy for me to express on leather what he had explained.
I chose the cast of Capitan Spaventa di Vall’Inferno without knowing who he was.
Without knowing that for me the game would continue in the world of the Commedia dell’Arte with the teacher Stefano Mauro.
In the second part, Purgatory, the game became more difficult.
Fede explained Dante's purgatory, but to get us deeply into the emotion he made us play a game.
We were faced with the 7 Deadly Sins and everyone chose a sin at random.
We had to talk and express ourselves as if that sin were part of us.
I had to express myself as a sinner.
After that, he invited us to do the exact opposite of that sin, to return on the stage, to express ourselves with the opposite of that sin.
For example, if I had chosen the hunger, later I would have talked with serenity.
For me it was an experience of awareness, more than a game.
Sometimes it happened to me that it was easier to express myself with one of the sins and it was difficult for me to do its opposite.
Until I made this mask, neutral.
In the third part, in the laboratory of Paradise, Fede gave us an exercise, a game, to let us feel and understand the sensations of Paradise, in order to be able to make the mask. Fede was inspired by Dante's paradise by making the mold of our face with plaster and the mask had to remain white. It was a very strange feeling, to do it I had to close my eyes and at the other participants were asked to take care of me, my body and my face.
While they were putting the plaster on my face, they was helping me to not be scared, because it took about half an hour, everyone said a sweet word to me, caress me, pamper my plaster mask. We had to be very tender.
For me it was a formidable experience that gave me a lot of inspiration. Every time I looked at the masks before doing this workshop there was something inside me that strongly attracted me to them. I had always understood that recall meant something, that I have to do something with these masks, but I still didn't know what it was.
But as soon as I finished this workshop I had a feeling of urgency to do 3 works: hell, purgatory, heaven.
From how many emotions I had in that laboratory, it was impossible not to explode and give these feelings back to the others, because it was a strong feeling.
After getting this feeling, I finally decided to take some pictures and waited for the right moment. I waited a few months, always thinking about this project. A day, Filippo contacted me asking me if I had an idea for create some artistic work dedicated to Dante.
And from here, I began.
During the event he had organized the second phase.
In this SECOND PHASE of the game, I wanted to create an encounter between the Divine Comedy and the Commedia dell’Arte, that is, the experiences made in the last year.
Now it was my turn to guide the others and get them into the game, to take the right picture.
In Lecco (near Milan) there were more than 20 people available for this event, I explained to them what we would do in these 3 photos, but the explanations concerning the emotions I left for the moment of taking the photos, I did not explain them before.
The first day I took only 2 photos, Hell and Paradise.
I had to go directly from Hell to Paradise because most of the participants were there for the photo of Paradise, even though I would have liked to proceed in the right way, step by step.
There were people who proposed to live all 3 phases, there are other people who preferred to live the experience of Hell and others who accepted only Heaven. And they waited their time.
We had a lot of fun in Hell, there was no suffering during that experience.
I prepared all the technical parts and left Capitan Spaventa inside a cage.
Then he asked me: “what should I do?”, I replied “don't worry, you will do what you feel” and I said to the group “I want you to scare Captain Spaventa! Frighten him a lot, attack him! Make him scare! Of course, there was nothing easier than that, to scare him, to be afraid, to scare di others.
The group was wonderful and they managed to scare him.
Thanks to all those who have accepted to live this experience.
After this photo, we started working to make the photo of Paradise.
We were very happy to have lived the experience of the photo of Hell because it turned out to be very true, sincere. I thought that in Heaven the situation would turn out to be much easier. As soon as I said: "try to be like souls of light, light beings, live lightness and happiness" and they - Abracadabra - would have realized it as with the group of hell, that is, they would be able to express happiness and lightness easily.
Instead I experienced this, contrary to what I thought, more in the photo of Hell than in that of Heaven. While I was taking the photos, the situation was not easy at all, I saw the Ego, I saw the hunger of this moment, but there was neither the lightness nor the happiness, it was absolutely not as I would have expected.
I discovered the Creator's wisdom at that time.
I was the creator of that work, so I had to seek the wisdom of God in Paradise, then Unity, the fact that we are all One. I let everyone do what they wanted and later I had to work on the photo. Cover faces, create more movement, more lightness in the photo. In Paradise there is light, there is peace, there is no ego and everyone accepts their place. I lived that moment in another awareness, I saw things in another way.
The next day we started the journey into Purgatory.
Every time I heard about Purgatory I said: "but we are already living in purgatory: we make mistakes, we commit sins. There are who try to improve and there are those who are not even aware of what they are like, where they are, there are those who try to improve and there are those who do not try.
The purgatory group was very different, I asked them to have more pity towards others, to help them, to have tenderness towards each other and I asked them to show me that in the movement.
This is the only thing to do if they want to get out of Purgatory. It is the only experience they have to live. I was shocked at the amount of hope and pain I saw in their body movement and in the photo. In purgatory there are all the contradictions.
The third stage is this moment, for anyone who is reading now, is watching the video and the photos.
To those who have not lived this experience, to you who are reading an experience lived by others, who have not lived directly, I want to say "if life is a game of feelings, then to live the feelings of light and heaven it is necessary to know its opposite. From the feelings of hell, to understand the difference from those of Heaven and be aware of YOUR feelings, you have to go through Purgatory, put both emotions together, close to each other, and choose which feeling you want to experience in this Game of Life.