Wednesday, January 23

Great Balls of Fire

From Agora magazine

I know this is 'old news', and that the pictures have already gone around the world... but, I've had the articles about this on my desk for far too long. Here's a guy, who, in the midst of the Monizzapoli scandal (garbageopoly) decided to confer a little color on Italy. And, he has succeeded.

First, with his dying the Trevi Fountain red (and, once we all found out the dye would not stain the monument, we all agreed, it was, in fact, to nice effect) and now, by tossing 500,000 colorful balls down the Spanish Steps. What the self-proclaimed futurist artist states is an act of protest, I (and a few other art critics) believe he is doing a good job of brightening up the City; showing color in movement.

So, what's the difference between Cecchini (whose name means a sort of sniper) and Christo (whose name, well, never mind)...If you visit Christo's site, you'll see he calls himself a "Bulgarian-born American Environmental Artist" (I knew America would get blamed somewhere for this). I've come up with a few of my own conclusions:

1. Christo's art generally stays put for awhile, and doesn't get hurriedly swept up by Street Sweepers, as if a bunch of plastic coloured balls from a McDonalds play area was something we shouldn't be allowed to see in broad daylight. If the authorities only practiced that kind of zeal on the transvestite prostitutes around town, well, now that'd be something to applaud.

2. Christo takes pains (very long ones, considering the 30-odd years it took him to get approval to set up his orange laundry in Central Park) to procure all the right certifications. Problem is, Cecchini would have to wait out a dozen or so governments to get those same permits, pay off an untold number of bribes, not get in the door for more than 20 odd years because of lack of raccomandazioni (friends in high places) and die, like much else, with his futurist dreams still in his head.

3. Cecchini gets arrested and has to pay a fine. This time for "imbrattamento" (meaning something close to messing things up like a graffiti writer). I would have suggested something more like Public Nuisance, given a bunch of balls on a stairway, but, hey, I don't make the rules. Anyway, Christo sometimes attracts protesters (for the environment, like when he covered a bunch of islands with plastic), but, it's Cecchini who is trying to protest, no?

4. Christo carefully articulates the meaning behind his installations, even if you still don't 'get it' in the end. If Cecchini is protesting, might he speak up about what it is, exactly, he's trying to accomplish above and beyond obtaining his 15 mins. of fame?

And, speaking of protest, he says he's on the Right. So, here we have a 50-something unemployed guy, still living with mamma in public housing (e.g. paid for by the State, something I would say, the Left probably had something to do with) and probably garnering a pension...and he's protesting?? In the very least, he could be protesting his own personal state of affairs, and adequately representing the rest of his countrymen to boot. But, with colorful and, dare I say, allegre installations?

And, while I believe Cecchini's controversial contributions are a vast improvement to another (City-authorized, City-financed and City-sanctioned) installation of Dead Children hanging from trees around Milano, I can't help feeling I must still be missing something.

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