Amid the Rise of Italy’s Far Right, Curator Francesco Bonami Has Founded His Own Satirical Italian-Art-First Political Party

Bonami’s EXAGERAMOS! party will ban all non-Italian artists from participating in the Venice Biennale, among other edicts.

Francesco Bonami attends the 'Sigmar Polke' Exhibition opening at Palazzo Grassi on April 16, 2016 in Venice, Italy. Photo: Barbara Zanon/Getty Images.
Francesco Bonami attends the 'Sigmar Polke' Exhibition opening at Palazzo Grassi on April 16, 2016 in Venice, Italy. Photo: Barbara Zanon/Getty Images.

“What if the art world starts to go bonkers?” 

This is the question Italian curator Francesco Bonami asked himself when thinking about the possibility of the industry following in the steps of Donald Trump or Italian right-wing Northern League politician Matteo Salvini, who, as as he puts it, have succeeded “because they have no shame” and just “bullshit or exaggerate.” 

To make his point, Bonami has taken to Instagram to promote his own satirical, Italian art-focused political party, EXAGERAMOS!

Operating under the name Childish Bonamino—a nod to Donald Glover’s rap project Childish Gambino—the curator who once helmed the Venice Biennale has posted a number of videos in which he adopts a politician’s pomposity and espouses the credos of EXAGERAMOS!, which seeks to recapture Italy’s place as the leader of the global art world. 

(In Italy, the populist Five Star Movement, currently one of two warring factions in government, began as an initiative of comedian Beppe Grillo.)

“Curators, global and multi-cultured: the party is finished,” Bonami said in a video posted this week. “No more biennales around the world. Biennale is like mozzarella and pizza—it’s our product. So I’m going to sign a decree that won’t allow anybody to use the name ‘biennale’ outside Venice.”

Bonami also claims that he will demand the Biennale’s international pavilions to pay retribution for the rent owed to Italy since 1895, when the event first started. (“We are not a holiday place. The biennale is not a place where you just go and take your room,” he says.) 

The curator-cum-fake party leader says he will institute a law that will allow only Italian artists to participate in the Biennale, while another “will forbid all the garbage contemporary art in galleries and museums.” “We will put in nice little boxes all the shitty art that comes from abroad and we send it back to their country,” he explains in a video

“People and colleagues in the art world behave more and more like politicians or business people every day,” Bonami tells artnet News. “Nobody puts out a real opinion in the fear losing ‘votes.’ Find me a young curator who has the nerve to criticize, let along talk shit, about Ai Weiwei, Kaws or Banksy. Where has all the fun and freedom art was supposed to deliver gone?”

So far the response to EXAGERAMOS! has been positive, notes Bonami. “People in the art world love for someone to make fun of himself on their behalf. I myself am having a lot of fun.”


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