In his Italian Journey (1786) Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote: “See Naples and die”. Like many rich men of his day, the artist travelled here as part of a Grand Tour and found the city so magical that he knew that he would die without regret after visiting its shores. Today the popular quote has become a reference to the gang violence rife in the city. Naples is still on top of European crime index in 2017, but for photographer Sam Gregg, this place should be seen for humans behind the crime statistics.
“My photographs are a documentation of the spirit and vibrancy of the people who live in these areas, even in the face of abject adversity. They are fiercely proud of their heritage and emblematic of what it means to be a true Neapolitan. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and that’s what makes them so endearing.” In the series See Naples and Die, he came across The Spanish Quarter and Rione Sanità, shooting people as a product of their surroundings. “Through chatting with the locals I was able to better understand the socioeconomic issues of the city, and from then on the project started to take shape.”
Sam’s photographs show the whole spectrum of Neapolitan life with a unique sense of style. The London based artist's works (documentary video, sound and portrait photography) show a particular disposition in marginalised and dispossessed communities. Gregg's work is both immersive and removed, taking refuge within complex environments as a means of following narratives that reflect on his own culture.