Museum Keeps Burning Art to Protest Italy Budget Cuts

'This is war,' says Antonio Manfredi
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2012 12:34 AM CDT
Updated May 22, 2012 1:41 AM CDT
Art Still Going Up in Smoke to Protest Italy Budget Cuts
Italian artist Rosaria Matarese looks at one of her creations as it burns in front of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum.   (AP Photo/Franco Castano)

It's an incendiary protest. More than a month after an Italian museum director first burned art to protest budget cuts, Antonio Manfredi is still regularly incinerating works at his Casoria Contemporary Art Museum. "This is war for the arts," Manfredi explains. "We want the institutions in Italy and around the world to understand that culture is very important. It's not possible when there is an economic problem in the world that the first that the government destroys is art."

Spending on the arts in Italy amounts to a small fraction of 1% of the nation's GDP—less than a fourth of what is spent in France, Germany, and Italy. Manfredi began his protest with works of art he created, and quickly moved on to others—with the permission of artists who created them. "When I burn one artwork I feel very, very bad. Because each one piece in this museum is one part of my life, is one part of the life of the artist," says Manfredi. "But we destroy some art to save all art." Officials still haven't yet responded, but similar protests have been sparked in Germany, England, and Wales, notes NPR. (More art museum stories.)

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