20 April 2019
The hastily reconstructed installation. Can you blame the cleaners? Photo: Museion
The hastily reconstructed installation. Can you blame the cleaners? Photo: Museion

Exhibit trod fine line between art and garbage – and fell over

Cleaning staff at a museum in Italy showed what they thought of an artwork being exhibited there.

The art installation of empty champagne bottles and spent party poppers reopened on Tuesday, three days after the cleaners mistook it for garbage and put it in the trash.

The piece — titled “Where shall we go dancing tonight?” — was intended to evoke the consumerism, financial speculation, mass media and parties of the 1980s, Reuters reported.

After realising the mistake, staff at the Museion Bozen-Bolzano hastily salvaged the materials from recycling containers and recreated the artwork.

Museum director Letizia Ragaglia suggested the incident had served to get people talking about modern art.

“It has sparked a great debate … It all goes to show how contemporary art is capable of arousing great interest, or even annoying people,” she said in a statement.

“We believe it is essential to keep this dialogue open.”

There’s no word on whether the cleaners were praised or reprimanded for their contribution to the dialogue.

Nevertheless, the creators of the installation, Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari, were not amused.

“What happened was bad. It cannot be possible for an installation to end up in the rubbish bin,” the Alto Adige newspaper quoted them as saying.

However, the incident isn’t the first time cleaners in Italy have mistaken art for trash, NBC News reported.

In February 2014, a cleaner at Murat Hall in Bari thought the chunks of cardboard and newspapers that filled the room were left behind by workers preparing an exhibition, rather than a valuable piece of art.

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