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Simon / Story of a softgunner
In these years of virtual reality, where children have stopped playing war in the courtyard and do it in front of the computer instead, there are those who don’t want to miss the adrenalin on the skin. Weekly, groups of fans of military tactics come in lost places. Wearing uniforms and with weapons in hand, they simulate real battles, sometimes recreating episodes of real wars. Of course they do it with “toy” guns, rifles that shoot plastic pellets.
What drives these people playing war, at a time when we are bombarded with pictures of pain and suffering associated with conflicts?
How could it be that one could confuse the images of a game with images of a real war?
This is the world of SOFTAIR.
The protagonist of this project is Simon, aka Sergeant Ramirez, 24th Marines Expeditionary Unit. Simon is a young, precarious, man born in the Dominican Republic. Now he lives in Rome in the multi-ethnic neighborhood of San Lorenzo, where young people from all over the world live a reality made of short-term project contracts and dreams of quick profits.
Softair is a chance at integration. Playing war shares intense emotions with unknown people. Despite the fiction, the atmosphere is true and sincere, as are the relationships established between participants. Friendship, envy, hate, submission, admiration and loyalty all come to play.
With this long-term project, I am examining in depth the concepts of social and sociability, conflicts, deviations, and definition of roles, especially in places of male aggregation.
Matteo Armellini was raised in Rome where he currently lives. He studied Sociology at La Sapienza University of Rome and Photography and Visual Arts at European Institute of Design. In 2008 he started travelling as freelance photographer through Europe, Asia and South America, focusing on social issues and subcultures. His pictures have been published in many magazine, such as The Big Issue Australia, The Times, Aftonbladet, Vice International, The Trip, Fotografijos ratas, Freak and Kult Magazine.