Chapman Brothers Work Censored in Rome

Children’s rights group says it’s “paedo-pornographic.”

Jake and Dinos Chapman, Piggyback, 1997 Courtesy the artists
Jake and Dinos Chapman, Piggyback, 1997 Courtesy the artists

Jake and Dinos Chapman’s provocative art is proving a bit much for the Italian public. Their fiberglass sculpture of two young naked girls, one clinching a penis in her mouth, has been removed from Rome’s contemporary art museum MAXXI after a children’s rights group complained to the government, The Telegraph reports.

Entitled Piggyback, the 1997 piece by the former Young British Artists was part of a display of artworks from the permanent collection, “Remembering is Not Enough.” It was taken down weeks before it was due to be de-installed, along with the rest of the show, at the end of September. Piggyback was bequeathed to the museum by collector Claudia Gian Ferrari upon her death in 2010, and has been on view since the start of “Remembering is Not Enough” last December.

For MAXXI director Anna Mattirolo, the decision is a clear infringement of the brothers’ “freedom of expression.” “Crudity is part of the Chapmans’ work, they are known for works that denounce a sick reality,” she told The Telegraph. “They want to generate discussion about false morality and provoke debate and we firmly believe and support the freedom of expression of the artists.”

“This is not about an attack on the freedom of artistic expression, but to avoid promoting depictions with a clear paedo-pornographic context behind the art,” answered president of the Observatory on the Rights of the Child, Antonio Marziale, in a statement published on the organization’s website. He asked not only for the piece to be removed but for it not to be shown again.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, who came to prominence in the late 1990s with their horror-laden and sexually charged artworks, are no strangers to controversy. Last week, Jake provoked a public outcry in Britain when he said taking children to museums was “a waste of time.”


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