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October 20, 2007 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Piggybacking the opening of the Rome Film Fest, a group of self-styled cultural "terrorists" struck Rome yesterday, dyeing the Trevi fountain red. In an elaborate manifesto, the previously unknown group Azione Futurista is claiming to represent "precarious workers, the unemployed, the elderly, the ill, the student body and workers alike", and have announced that "we are coming with our vermilion to colour the grey of your everyday" - "a blob of colour will bury you all."

Although it seems they used innocuous red aniline dye, most authorities are, predictably, up in arms.
posted by progosk (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Conceptual terrorists? The Onion beat them to it.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 5:56 AM on October 20, 2007

Ah it brings me back to the good ol days of the Red Brigades. When terrorism stood for something we can all understand. Not this conceptual "art" crap.
posted by Gungho at 6:00 AM on October 20, 2007

Christ, is there nothing in our society that won't immediately be turned into a meaningless lifestyle choice? Not even fucking terrorism?
posted by nasreddin at 6:17 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, that red water is very striking! I love stuff like this. It did make me think of that Iranian red fountain (symbolizing the blood of the martyrs and all) which I think was (is?) in Tehran. Also the ocean, after one of those big whale or dolphin kills. The blood association is not so great... They should work with, say, electric lime green, or hot pink. That'd be better.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:19 AM on October 20, 2007

Dammit, I hate it when I forget to close the italics tag...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:20 AM on October 20, 2007

I just don't get the point, unless it's to piss people off.

Of course, once we use extraordinary rendition on these guys and they spend 5 years at Guantanamo it won't be all fun and art then.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:25 AM on October 20, 2007

I heart Italy, but I think Rome has weathered worse storms in the past than cultural terrorists. The war on terror endumbifies everything it touches. I, for one, welcome our new fountain-dyeing Culturo-Terroristico-Artistico-Critico Overlords.
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:26 AM on October 20, 2007

cjorgensen, is linking Recent Comments to Guantanamo some sort of anti-MeFi conceptual terrorism?
posted by nasreddin at 6:31 AM on October 20, 2007

I think they're forgetting that the operative word in "terrorism" is "terror".

That, or they've got some sort of insanely strong red fountain phobia, and assume that everyone else feels the same.
posted by Bugbread at 6:49 AM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think they're forgetting that the operative word in "terrorism" is "terror".

Although the water in that first YouTube link looks kinda orange to me, I presume it was very red in real life, which could be a pretty disturbing sight. If I just happened to walk by and see that, I'd figure there was a bleeding body in the fountain. Well...or that Dario Argento was shooting a movie there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:04 AM on October 20, 2007

From the strategy of tension to the seeking of attention. Maybe they're reflecting the spectacle back on itself.
posted by Abiezer at 7:08 AM on October 20, 2007

Don't take too seriously all this 'terrorism' speaking. They are just using futurists buzzwords, mixing them with a bit of noglobal and rightwingery.

Here's a video of the guy putting ink in the fountain. Is there a 'They' at all? Maybe it's just this man.
posted by darkripper at 7:14 AM on October 20, 2007

"Daddy, tell me again about how the red dye you stuck in the fountain ended poverty!"
posted by craniac at 7:16 AM on October 20, 2007 [6 favorites]

I love italians and their art movement fetishes, but craniac summed up everything I was thinking into one pithy statement. most excellent work, sir.
posted by EricGjerde at 7:22 AM on October 20, 2007

I'm with Flapjacks; the red reminds me of some killer whale feeding ground or weird PETA movement. If I had walked by I probably would have thought "ohhh, pretty color." and been on my merry way.
posted by heatherbeth at 7:56 AM on October 20, 2007

Vandals aside, it made me think of Anita Ekberg in Dolce Vita. Fontana di Trevi in red. That is a scene Fellini could have worked well.
posted by carmina at 8:17 AM on October 20, 2007

Are we sure this isn't just some promotional stunt for a TV series?
posted by goatdog at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2007

Caravan shot by Marty. Van is gone, baby, gone.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 8:49 AM on October 20, 2007

Wrong window, as you were.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 8:52 AM on October 20, 2007

Not terrorism, situationism.
posted by The White Hat at 8:57 AM on October 20, 2007

kittens for breakfast writes "I presume it was very red in real life, which could be a pretty disturbing sight"

Yeah, but there's a huge gulf between "disturbing" and "terrifying". Witness the fact that we're all disturbed by tentacle porn, but the US is not shooting missiles into Japan.
posted by Bugbread at 9:59 AM on October 20, 2007

I was in Rome when some cavorting Americans bumped into a piece of sculpture in a fountain and busted a piece off. Man, the authorities took that real seriously, the outrage was off the scale.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:02 AM on October 20, 2007

Weird, I'd tried linking to:

It just seems to me, that we should respect places like this, and even if not, by throwing a bunch of dye in the fountain, all you are doing is ruining it for others. I doubt if the crowd was there to see a bunch of people dye the fountain.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:48 AM on October 20, 2007

So, well here is the thing. Not all forms of political protest, civil dissidence, public activism, resistance or mere objection to state practices have to be the same. Why should they? And if they were, what would that be? Another letter to the Editor, another demonstration, a concert, a TV fundraiser? Or a letter to your favorite Statesman? I am not discounting these actions of course, I am wondering whether there is space for another kind of activism.

'Stunts' like that are not new, as White Hat's Situationism comment shows. They were also particularly popular in the beginning of the 20th century (e.g. in museums), the 60s and 70s (antiwar, antinuclear and the second suffrage movements) and they are more popular than you'd think today with the eco-protests (in China and in Brittain), by the Greenpeace and the electronic civil disobedience acts. Granted, not all these are comparable in the magnitude, organizing and effectiveness, but maybe if you consider tactics alone, some say that such stunts are better remembered and therefore better reminders of the cause (Blackwell's companion to social movements).

Very peaceful, cost little to do and to undo and certainly with no harm to the monuments (here the fountain) or the buildings or anyone really. But they are able to catch people's attention, simply by being different.

On preview, cjorgensen from what I gather from the news the authorities cleaned this up very quickly by draining and re-filling the fountain. No harm done.
posted by carmina at 10:53 AM on October 20, 2007

The criminal severity of this action is beyond the scope of anything that exists in the US. Defacing public/historic monuments comes with a mandatory prison sentence in Rome. There's graffiti everywhere in Rome, but none on the fountains, sculptures, or monuments. The Italians don't take this sort of thing very lightly.
posted by baphomet at 12:57 PM on October 20, 2007

Considering the vandalism of one of the most inspiring and magnificent pieces of public art ever created by a human being an artistic or political statement is like calling shooting John Lennon a work of music.
posted by baphomet at 1:01 PM on October 20, 2007

Thanks for that info, baphomet. That helps put it in more context.
posted by Bugbread at 1:03 PM on October 20, 2007

Does this mean that Al Qaeda will give up and pack it in now? Because terrorism is, clearly, no longer edgy.

Actually, maybe what we need is for a variety of washed-up 80s TV stars to become "terrorists," thereby making it so hideously trite that nobody with a serious agenda will want to be associated with it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:59 PM on October 20, 2007

baphomet, if you are referring to me, you misunderstood me. Or I misunderstood what I wrote. I come from Greece, I cannot begin to tell you how vandalism of antiquities or of modern art makes me feel. I only want to point out that in Rome (as also in China) there was no harm done to the objects.
posted by carmina at 12:22 AM on October 21, 2007

there was no harm done to the objects.

Indeed, this seems a very important distinction. Now, if they'd taken a jackhammer to the sculpture itself, that'd be a different thing altogether. But they put some dye in the water. It's a prank. An little mini-event to liven up the day.

(Still think it shoulda been hot pink, though...)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:40 AM on October 21, 2007

hey! psst! flapjax, are you mockin' me?
posted by carmina at 12:55 AM on October 21, 2007

no way, carmina. I'm just agreeing with you! At least, I think I am...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:58 AM on October 21, 2007

oh, okay then. ciao.
posted by carmina at 1:00 AM on October 21, 2007

posted by blacklite at 4:27 AM on October 21, 2007

Vandals aside, it made me think of Anita Ekberg in Dolce Vita. Fontana di Trevi in red. That is a scene Fellini could have worked well.

That was sort of the point; part of their manifesto complained about 15 mil being spent on the Rome Film Festival instead of helping the elderly, unemployed, students, sick, etc. They've now identified the man as being part of a small extreme right group.

To underscore what baphomet said, the fine just for jumping into the fountain was £1,000,000 pre-euro; taking into account the rise in prices across the board since then, I'd hazard to guess it's at a cool €1,000 now.

I'm not surprised that he wasn't caught right away, though. Supposedly in place to deal with pickpockets & prevent said emulation of Ekberg, the vigili urbani got pinged recently by Stricia la Notizia for being shockingly lax in dealing with individuals fishing all the coins out of the fountain with magnets attached to car antennas or even jumping in to scoop out the loot. (Money thrown into the fountain goes to charity.)

A tiny part of me says "Looks cool, no lasting damage done" to my initial "Don't screw with historical monuments" reaction, but I guess it could have been worse .
posted by romakimmy at 7:48 AM on October 21, 2007

carmina- I was referring to the situation as a whole and not specifically to anything you said. But if I should be mocking you for any other relevant reasons, you know, feel duly slighted. Otherwise, have a cocktail!
posted by baphomet at 3:46 PM on October 26, 2007

thanks baphomet. I shall have that cocktail anyway! Cheers.
posted by carmina at 7:45 PM on October 27, 2007

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