Florence protesters to release film tackling art show against China

Local youth march in vain as protesters shut down exhibition in Florence claiming ‘Chinese tourists’ images were erased

Artists and activists who staged an art show against China after the country’s ruling party alleged that a large part of a complex in Florence was built illegally are to release a film, which they say will lay to rest the issue once and for all.

The controversial Future Perspective Project exhibition, which opened in November, has triggered a furious response from China, where it has been boycotted and labelled “illegal”.

The artists protesting said a surveyor contracted by the Chinese embassy had wiped almost 400 pieces of artwork to improve access to the historic site. This led to tens of thousands of citizens signing an online petition condemning the “deplorable” infringement of artistic freedom.

The Embassy of China in Florence has rejected the activists’ accusations, saying Chinese tourists are unaware of the scale of the artwork that is being disputed, reports La Repubblica.

Florence residents protest outside the Chinese embassy to demand that the Chinese artwork be restored. Photograph: Alessandro D’Alessandri/Corbis via Getty Images

The National Art Foundation of China (NACC) says it hopes to “establish a correct position” with art critics and audiences following the storm of protest.

“Regarding that certain works were reused as floor coverings in the Grand National Library, the problem has been settled, thanks to the prompt and responsible actions by the foundation,” it added.

The NACC said: “Some criticised the excessive and other objectionable use of such poor materials. There were four complaints.

“On 11 November 2017, the foundation commissioned the screening of a documentary at the Grand National Gallery titled The Law and the Architects, which was scheduled to last for one hour and was to record the remarks of every faculty member of the school of Architecture, at all of whom rejected the questionable claims.

“Some people suggested the following alternative solution: the restoration of a couple of paintings damaged by the cleaning and restoration, reducing the content of the video by about half.”

More than 5,000 people signed an online petition, which called on the ambassador to intervene and rebuild the image of Florence with genuine Chinese investment and appreciation of Italian culture.

The environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti, resigned, along with his deputy, Vittorio Sgarbi, in response to outrage in Florence and other parts of Italy at what locals call the Chinese equivalent of the Nazis’ theft of city treasures.

Galletti and Sgarbi stood accused of failing to act to put an end to the vandalism, which activists accuse the Chinese authorities of perpetrating.

The director of the project, Francesco Cornara, and its academic collaborator Vincenzo Prandini, who edited the documentary film, have released the film after the controversial exhibition closed on Friday.

Both expressed disappointment in the government’s “lack of interest” in resolving the situation and their call for the criminal offence of vandalism to be referred to prosecutors.

The film, which Cornara said took several weeks to make, includes interviews with Cornara and Prandini, as well as with 20 international artists, many of whom have argued the issue should not be viewed narrowly as a matter of China, but as an overall public interest.

“We showed that it is a project, a film, an art event and a private project that in fact needs the support of the whole of society,” said Cornara.

Cornara said the artists featured in the documentary were initially concerned when they found out the project was being targeted by the Chinese government, but stressed that they were not attacking the country.

“There has never been an attack on China itself. We respect China and what it is,” he said.

Leave a Comment