Finnish work of art torn down during anti-globalization demo in Florence
A demonstration on Saturday evening by Italian activists opposed to globalization led to the destruction of a work of art set up in Florence by architects Sami Rintala and Marco Casagrande.
The demonstration was not specifically aimed at the book sculpture itself, or the Florence Biennale exhibition which opened on Friday; observers say that the situation simply got out of control.
At the invitation of the organisers, Casagrande and Rintala built a large work of art on the Piazza della Repubblica in the centre of Florence. The work, Installation 1:2001, was a round wall of books, nearly two metres high and five metres in diameter.
The installation was made of about 15,000 books concerning various political and religious philosophies.
Some of the books were donated by libraries in Finland, including various city libraries, the Lenin Museum in Tampere, and the Dharma Centre in Helsinki. The artists also collected more books on their way through Europe, and when they got to Italy, a collection of 5,000 books was waiting for them.
Sami Rintala drove a van and trailer through Eastern Europe to Florence, and his assistant Antti Antinoja took the Western route. They got donations from libraries in Tallinn, Vilnius, Berlin, Prague and Vienna, and from printing houses in Leipzig and Cologne.
It took a week to erect the wall of books. Marco Casagrande says that the local press followed the progress the masonry project intensely. "The work awoke more reactions than we expected. Some were afraid that we were going to burn the books and reacted in an aggressive manner."
"From the beginning we had planned to donate the books if there had been any interest, but we never got the chance", Casagrande says.
Friday evening saw the opening of the Florence Biennale, and the completion of the installation of Rintala and Casagrande. On Saturday evening a demonstration that moved through the city ended at the Piazza. Some of the demonstrators started taking books out of the wall, while others tried to stop them. In the chaos that ensued the whole work was destroyed. By that time the architects had left Florence.