'This is Art War!' Italian museum burns paintings to protest austerity cuts (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Antonio Manfredi burned a painting by Neapolitan artist Rosaria Matarese on Wednesday night outside the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum situated in a small town near Naples.
As the artist stood beside Manfredi to watch her work turn to ash, she described the process as “painful,” but also necessary “ to save this museum.” Matarese’s creation was valued at around $8,000 and $9,000.
On the previous day, French artist Severine Bourguignon also gave Manfredi the green light as she watched online her $13,050 painting going up in flames.
Manfredi said he will burn three works of art a week until the museum’s entire 1,000-piece collection is gone unless the government forks over funds for the private museum.
While the center-left Democratic Party has appealed to the government for additional finances, investment advisor Patrick Young told RT cash for the arts is likely to be in short supply.
Saying that modern art is entirely entwined with the art of the performance, Young maintains Manfredi has “clearly got himself a great deal of publicity with his little act of arson.” However, Young also believes that the museum director has hit a dead end.
“The Italian government will probably want to listen to him, but they can’t actually do anything because they are completely and utterly constrained by the straightjacket of cuts because of the rumbling disaster that is the eurozone.”
With public debt standing at 120 per cent of GDP, Italy’s technocrat premier Mario Monti introduced the ‘Save Italy’ plan last December, which included tax hikes, pension cuts, and an increase in the retirement age.
The Italian economy is now expected to contract by 1.2 per cent of GDP in 2012, while the overall tax burden will skyrocket to 45.4 per cent in 2013.
Amid all the bad economic news, money for the arts might be the last thing the Italian taxpayer is worried about.
Young further argues that Manfredi’s publicity stunt could actually minimize “the serious economic problems that the whole of Europe is facing, and particularly in countries such as Italy.”
He believes it would be a much better idea “to have these artists and these arts being sold so that they could actually go somewhere to try and help some of the pensioners.”
But while he ultimately views the protest as “ludicrous,” Young says “it does draw attention to the fact that the fundamental underpinnings of many Europeans states, and that means the vast amounts of money that have been spent on the social state, whether it be on the arts, whether it be on pensions, is coming to an end.”
Watch Patrick Young's full interview with RT
Antonio Manfredi, director of CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) of Casoria, burns a painting of French artist Severine Bourguignon (Reuters/Stringer)
AFP Photo/Roberta Basile