Art continues to provoke – and the ‘Statue in the Piazza’ – the sculpture on display in the heart of the city’s public space – retains its power to shock the people and galvanize their passions. And in some Piazzas that art is … more provocative, and controversial than in other Piazzas.
Like in this Piazza. After weeks of wrangling over whether the choice of placing a statue of Mussolini’s third-born son Bruno in the Villa Bertelli in Forte dei Marmi, ostensibly to celebrate “Italy’s Military Aviation” is right, the city’s Mayor Buratti has put the brakes on… ok, really more gone “marcia indietro” on the whole affair.
And, it has been a baffling affair – to many, since it started.
The city’s center-left (!?) Mayor seems genuinely surprised. Why would anyone think that he might be trying to pander to … “special interests” in Forte dei Marmi, within months of an election, by wanting to showcase an unclaimed remnant of the fascist regime? Why would anyone have a problem with celebrating Italian Military Aviation with the placing of a statue – commissioned and completed (but never delivered due to “political contre-temps’) during the last years of Italy’s WWII regime – on display in the Piazza… Why would anyone balk at celebrating Italy’s military achievements given the country’s ‘complicated’ war experience – and given the statue’s envisioned placement … its proximity to the Ossario di Sant’Anna … is beyond comprehension… or beyond something!
(Here, dear reader, read sarcasm – we mention this to avoid additional confusion … and to mitigate whatever shortcomings – “short gaps?” – of Googletranslate)
Why would people be inclined to “read” something more into a statue of “an aviator” even if it was originally designed ( – by ‘il Duce’ himself in 1941… ) to commemorate Italy’s aviation escapades in … well, for example in Ethiopia (fire-bombing straw huts “with glee”) oh, and also in Franco’s Spain (alongside the Luftwaffe?)
Ok, so some miscreants called in threats of violence… and threatened dire straights! (not the band… thankfully the whole argument has not stooped THAT low!) So, the latest official communiqué states blandly: “The Mayor of Forte dei Marmi. alerted to the risks of violent episodes – in some instances actually voiced, and in his awareness of his responsibility as representative of the (governmental) institutions communicates that the ceremony slated for Sunday March 25 2012 will not see the unveiling of the statue “The Aviator” by Arturo Dazzi.” The Mayor, Mr. Buratti, has decided to “temporarily” rescind the mandate-to-celebrate and has scrubbed his plans to exhibit the statue … just yet. The city’s center-left First Citizen reserves the right (pardon the pun) to celebrate the work of Arturo Dazzi at a later date. Dazzi was one of the key image-makers of fascist Italy, his works were appreciated for their idealized depictions of virile athletes and hope-filled workers. We – in the Art is Life offices normally call that sort of stuff ‘Socialist Realism.’
Anyway… another Piazza, another controversy, “made in Italy.” The repercussions of this whole
boondoggle, experience are not done shaking the popolo. Does art have a social and political meaning? What exactly is Mayor Buratti thinking? One thing that is laid bare again is Italy’s ambiguous and complicated relationship with the demons of its past. We invite everyone to share their thoughts on the issue in the comments, knowing full well that we are opening the door to a “lively” debate. Note that the comments are moderated, and any comment containing threats and/or personal insults will not get posted.
Here is a link to Il Tirreno (from which we use the picture above.)