Wednesday 18 April 2012

Art War: an Italian Museum begins burning artworks

The Casoria  Contemporary Art Museum  (CAM), in the neighborhood of Naples, is burning its artworks to protest against the Government harsh budget cuts that have left many cultural institutions out of pocket, giving only the 0.21% of the Italian budget to the Culture.

The CAM Founder and Director, Antonio Manfredi, burned a work of the French Artist, Séverine Bourguignon, who was in favour of the protest and has confirmed the decision to destroy her work belonging to the Museum collection, a decision which she called “political, necessary, and compelling in the face of these adverse circumstances". 

Antonio Manfredi's burns a painting from the French artist
Séverine Bourguignon in front of the Casoria Museum
This incendiary anti-austerity protest follows Manfredi's threatens to set fire to the CAM permanent collection and the March exhibition  called "Camouflage" where the Museum exhibited only the photographs of its artworks without exposing the originals. 

The Director plans to burn three works a week in an initiative dubbed "Art war" affirming that "If a government allows Pompei to fall then what hope does my museum have?,'' following a number of incidents at the world-famous ancient Roman city buried by a volcanic explosion in 79 AD.

In the so called "Gomorra land" the museum has become known for daring exhibitions against the power of the Naples-based Camorra and has suffered intimidation.

Manfredi last year announced he had written a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel asking for asylum, saying he was fed up with mafia threats and the government's failure to protect Italy's rich cultural heritage. He said he would take his entire museum with him if the asylum was granted.

Manfredi never received a reply from German authorities but the famous Tacheles squat in Berlin offered "artistic asylum'' to the museum and hosted an exhibition in May 2011 of some of the museum's works against the mafia.

Today, again at 6 pm, Neapolitan artist Rosaria Matarese will set fire to one of her works: CAM, meanwhile, is waiting for someone to intervene.


Rosie Burbidge said...

Are all the artists OK with the painting burning?! Surely there's a potential moral rights issue here...?

Angela said...

So far the artists whose works were burned gave their permit to the burning, since they were in favor of the protest. Therefore, I deem in their specific case there is no potential moral right issue.

Surely if the director decides to burn other works without asking the artist's consent, it will.