Rome, Lazio, Italy
Sat 14 Aug 2010 31 °C
Although this piece is not about organic food or farming, I am justifying it's inclusion in that the theme of recycling is a valid part of sustainable living.
Walking down a nondescript Roman street, uncharacterised by any notable architecture or famous fountain, I found a collection of unusual artworks, laid out along a ledge for about 100 metres or so. Part open-air gallery, part observational comedy, the artworks were all made from garbage or recycled materials.
The exhibition was titled "Rome Today". I know this because it was scribbled on an old piece of cardboard. Other pieces of cardboard were used to name each display. These included the "Boat-load of money", a boat shaped from aluminium foil, filled with 1 and 2 cent pieces and the ragged old tie and sunglasses titled "Emporio Armani"
Some pieces were thought provoking, some tongue-in-cheek. There was the sign at one end of the row that said "The beginning, or the end?". The piece of torn map with a star drawn on, saying "Are you really here?".
The artists impression of Narcissus was a plastic container filled with water and a stone in the bottom had a gazing face drawn on it.
I viewed the torn old bible titled "Don't put your hands on it!" as a satirical take on many Roman attractions that are a hybrid of religious-artefact and tourist-money-maker.
A toy elephant with a bit of tissue stuck to its trunk was labelled "Has a cold". A notable gap in the row of artworks provoked a chuckle from a passer by with it's cardboard plaque: "Work stolen". My personal favourite was "Rome by night", a postcard that had been completely covered over with a black marker.
While admiring this display, I met the artist, whose name I forgot to ask.
Between his limited English and my very limited Italian, he explained that he has been showing his art here for over 20 years.
"So the display changes each time?" I asked, anticipating the answer.
"No, no" he said, to my surprise. To prove it, he walked me down to a cigarette butt hanging over the edge of a step. The display was titled "Back in 10 minutes". He had been showing this piece since 1988. (Mind you, the butt was in great condition, which makes me think of the 20 years worth of cigarette butts floating around out there in drains and oceans).
Now I don't put it upon myself to judge one art display as being better than another, but this back street, impromptu exhibition brought a smile to my face and caused me to take a second look, while just last week I found myself walking almost briskly through London's Tate Modern enjoying their coffee more than anything else.