words by Gabi Logan
Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), is setting three works of art from the museum’s collection on fire each week to protest the lack of public funding for modern art in Italy. Works by more than a dozen artists are scheduled to burn during CAM’s “Art War”.
French artist Severine Bourguignon’s one-meter square painting “Promenade”, painted for the Mediterranean Games in 2008, was set aflame last Tuesday as the artist watched via Skype. On Wednesday, Neapolitan Rosaria Matarese lit the match herself on her own painting. Both works were valued at around 7,000 euros.
Manfredi initially threatened to begin burning his museum’s art after a “mourning” protest, when the collection was covered with cloth to prevent public viewing, failed to illicit a statement of support from the government. Though his museum has not previously received government funding, Manfredi claims the museum will soon cease to exist without this support. Thefts of art and security equipment and a recent flood of the museum’s basement location have threatened the institution.
Government funding for modern art has always been scarce, but combination of government budget cuts and the recession’s reduction of private donations have aggravated the situation. After Manfredi’s first demonstration, the centre-left Democratic Party appealed the government for funds for the museum, but there has been no official response.
Artists from, Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece and Senegal have agreed to allow Manfredi to burn their work if the Art War continues. Other European contemporary art intuitions have joined the Art War, burning art from their collections. AirSpace Gallery Studios in Stoke-on-Trent staged a demonstration on the 20th of April and Art Center Tacheles has one planned for the 26th.