eco-activists glue themselves to a futuristic sculpture in Milan


Climate change activists have struck again in Italy. During a protest on July 30, protesters from the Ultima Generazione group clung to a plinth of Milan’s Museo del Novecento bearing the sculpture Unique forms of continuity in space (1913) by leading Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni.

Last month protesters from the same group stuck to Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera (circa 1480) at the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence. A spokesperson for Ultima Generazione recounts The arts journal “There will be other actions [protests].”

In a film posted on Instagram, protesters are seen affixed to the plinth of the museum in Milan. One of the activists said: “Scientists say now is the time [to act] but the window closes. Do you want to destroy yourself? In an online statement, Ultima Generazione adds: “We need to change direction. We have clung to Boccioni’s work because we can no longer afford to continue building economic progress. The progress hoped for by the futurists is leading us towards mass extinction.

Activists explain why they are targeting museums: “Italy is internationally recognized as the cradle of artistic and museum heritage. Ultima Generazione turns to the art world with a strong call for our requests to be brought to the attention of the government by all partners and organizations concerned. Eco-climate [crisis] will also have a tragic impact on the conservation of cultural heritage.

The group faces charges of “damage and resistance to a public official”, said the spokesperson, but the videos posted online show that “there was no violent attitude or resistance on the part of activists,” he added. Appropriate steps were taken to ensure Boccioni’s masterpiece was not damaged, protesters say. “The sculpture was not damaged because the activists stuck [themselves] to the structure supporting the work. We also consulted restorers who advised to use a suitable adhesive”, explains the group.

The interventions in Italy follow a number of similar actions in the UK at major museums and galleries. Last month, environmental activists from the group Just Stop Oil glued themselves to the famous Constable painting The Hay Wain (1821) at the National Gallery in London; Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and London’s Royal Academy of Arts have also been targeted.

At Boccioni’s Unique forms of continuity in space (1913), considered a futuristic masterpiece, undulates outward in the environment, penetrating the air. In his manifesto on sculpture, futuristic sculpture published in April 1912, Boccioni emphasized how his works merge with their surroundings, saying, “We are going to open the figure and enclose it in its surroundings.”

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