Art that exposes environmental havoc, but institutions don't like it (by Carrara)

Two artists from Carrara, Robo and Romeo Buffoni, created an installation against the devastation of the Apuan Alps and the precarious safety conditions of quarrymen. And the institutions did not like it.

Finally some real art was seen in Carrara. Although it was very short-lived and we at Windows on Art didn’t get to see it in time. I’m referring to the installation Marble R.I.P., conceived and created by the two artists Robo (stage name of Roberto Alessandroni) and Romeo Buffoni, which lasted about an hour: the time it took to display it in front of Carrara’s town hall, arouse the indignation of the institutions, and cause law enforcement to arrive to identify the artists, and of course workers from the local waste management company to remove the work and clean up the street.

The installation consisted of a bucket (i.e., the appendage of bulldozers, which is used to lift, transport and unload material), on which red tempera paint was sprinkled to simulate blood. Washable: “it’s the same one we use for the workshops we hold with children,” the artists explained in The Nation. And inside the bucket, the severed arm of a mannequin was also placed. All to denounce, on the one hand, the precarious safety conditions of those who work in marble quarries, which have claimed many victims over the years, and on the other hand, the environmental havoc that is perpetrated daily against the Apuan Alps and to which we, here on Finestre sull’Arte, have dedicated several articles. And on the other, the bending of politics to the logic of local business.

The installation was exhibited to the public on the opening day of Marble Weeks, the art event that will characterize the Carrara summer. And it is unfortunate that arguably the most interesting artwork (although obviously made outside the official event circuit) was hastily removed. Perhaps so as not to offend the sensibilities of the citizens. Perhaps, and more likely, not to “tarnish” an event to the success of which many of the city’s most important marble companies also contributed. So much so that a page on the official Marble Weeks website was even dedicated to each of them. And perhaps also so as not to induce the citizens of Carrara into uncomfortable reflections: better to have the citizens of Carrara exult over the summer exhibition sponsored by those who continue on a daily basis a marble mining activity that is becoming increasingly unsustainable.

Moreover, on these issues, Robo and Romeo Buffoni had already expressed themselves with a splendid mural that has been decorating Vicolo dell’Arancio, also in Carrara, for the past few years: a huge meat grinder chops up the marble of the mountains, which comes out in square blocks, while three pigeons, representing the people of Carrara, have to make do with the few crumbs scattered over a grayish slime (a probable allusion to marmettola and thus to the pollution produced by mining activities) by the hand of an entrepreneur. A fine article written by young Valeria Strambi for a journalism project explains the mural by the two artists very effectively.

A pity, then: the installation by Robo and Romeo Buffoni could have given rise to deep reflection on these issues. This was, after all, the artists’ stated intent to Tirreno journalists: “we want to propose a moment of reflection at the inauguration of the season’s most discussed and debatable kermis of celebration and celebration [...]. The purpose of the installation is to dwell on the human and environmental cost of so much wealth, unfortunately always put in the background when talking about production, export and pomp.” But this moment of reflection lasted just long enough to? be able to remove it! Better, then, for the people of Carrara to get back to “celebrating” and “celebrating,” even though there are very few reasons to celebrate and celebrate.

Carrara needs artists like Robo and Romeo Buffoni. Artists who are able to challenge, to show people that there are alternatives and that you can also think for yourself. Real art, after all, knows how to reach both people’s hearts and minds. And this is true art because it induces people to think about thorny and sad current issues. But it is also an uncomfortable art, which nonetheless carries the thoughts of a large part of the citizenship of Carrara. And it must also be considered that the work is not the product of the exclusive mind and hand of the two artists, but was created in collaboration with a cultural association, The Artists of the Village: a sign that the themes of Marble R.I.P. are discussed daily by the people of culture in the city. We can only congratulate the two authors of the artwork, wishing that they will still be able to give the city such important moments of reflection: Carrara needs more Marble R.I.P. and less Marble Weeks, more reflection and thought, and less celebrations and festivities, more awareness and less self-referentiality.

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