Gaetano Pesce Sculpture Vandalized in Rome

Troubles continue at the MAXXI museum.

Gaetano Pesce, Up 5&6 (2014) Photo via: Ansa.it
Gaetano Pesce, Up 5&6 (2014) Photo via: Ansa.it

A 7-meter-tall sculpture by Italian architect, artist, and designer Gaetano Pesce was vandalized in the courtyard of the MAXXI museum in Rome during the night of September 19. Only the inside of the work was damaged in the incident. The exact number of people involved, and the reasons behind the act remain unknown.

“I’m sorry and worried,” Pesce told La Repubblica. The piece was a large version of his iconic UP 5 & 6 (1969), an armchair shaped as a supine female form, to which a large ball is tethered “symbolizing,” the artist once explained, “the shackles that keep women subjugated.”

The original version of the piece was created 45 years ago. “I conceived this chair, which metaphorically chains a female body to a ball, to denounce the state of imprisonment that women are subjected to due to male bias,” Pesce commented. The new version updates the artist’s take on these issues, addressing “a series of questions on the condition of women in the world, with a special tribute paid to Malala Yousafzai and her courage.” Yousafzai is the 17-year-old Pakistani girls’ education activist who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012.

Gaetano Pesce, Up 5&6 (2014) Photo via: Ansa.it

Gaetano Pesce, Up 5&6 (2014)
Photo via: Ansa.it

The monumental UP 5 & 6 was commissioned for “Il tempo della diversità” (“The Time of Diversity”), a major exhibition retracing Pesce’s career from the 1960s to the present day. It is due to close on October 5.

This incident of vandalism continues what has been a tough first few years for MAXXI. Last month, the museum had to take down a sculpture by the controversial Chapman Brothers, following complaints from a children’s rights group, which deemed it “paedo-pornographic” (“Chapman Brothers Work Censored in Rome.”)

MAXXI was designed by Zaha Hadid and opened amid much controversy in 2010, four years behind schedule. Problems didn’t stop there. In 2012, the museum was almost shut down due to severe financial troubles. Chinese-born curator Hou Hanru was appointed as artistic director in 2013, with the hope he would give the controversial institution a fresh start (“Rome’s MAXXI Will Close for Six Weeks To Reboot.”) He still clearly has a lot on his plate. Meanwhile, restoration work on Pesce’s UP 5 & 6 has already started.


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