Vandalism or Dada? Red water in the Trevi Fountain

A mysterious group calling itself “Futurist Action” poured a bucket of red stuff in the Trevi Fountain in Rome yesterday (more pictures here and here). The unknown perpetrator left behind a stack of flyers explaining that the gesture is meant to criticize the waste of taxpayers’ money to subsidize mayor Veltroni’s Rome Film Fest this week, and ranting on about various ills of today’s society.

There is no permanent damage to the fountain, which has already been washed out and refilled with clear water. Of course we ought to protect our cultural heritage and have tough laws against vandalism, and of course the far-right anti-market pseudopolitical subtext in the futurist flyer is bonkers. But I can’t help appreciating the subversive creativity of the gesture, and in this I find myself in unusual and uncomfortable agreement with art critic Vittorio Sgarbi, who reportedly said “I can’t condemn the gesture: a bit of color in a sleeping city.”

UPDATE (Wednesday Oct. 24): journalists and bloggers are still in a lively debate over the episode. Here are a few links for each side of the debate (in Italian):

“It’s vandalism”: Manteblog, Leonardo.

“It’s art”:  Cristina Tagliabue, La vita istruzioni per l’uso, Prudentino (but with ambiguity – maybe it’s satire).

3 thoughts on “Vandalism or Dada? Red water in the Trevi Fountain

  1. Pingback: Vandals Dye Trevi Fountain Water Red | Italy Travel Guide

  2. I wrote it was art, actually… when you do something like that for the 1st time, it’s art.
    The second maybe it’s still art, even if a little bit boring. Then it starts to be vandalism.
    So, if we really love art, we’ve got to be sure that it’s the first and last time. How can we do that? Well, maybe we’ve got to put you in jail. Not for vandalism, but fort art’s sake…

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