The Italian right-wing politician Matteo Salvini has heavily criticised a sculpture depicting him shooting two migrants, which is on show in an exhibition in Naples. The piece, titled La pacchia è finita! (the free ride is over), is by the Italian artist Salvatore Scuotto. Salvini’s gun, aimed at the two terrified refugees, is draped with a sign that says “Game Over”. The work is part of a show titled Virginem=Partena held at the Nabi Interior Design gallery, which was organised by Biancamaria Santangelo.
In a video posted on Twitter, Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, said: “This piece that shows me shooting two immigrants, if this is a work of art, it doesn’t make me laugh. Why the fuck would it make me laugh?… The ‘sculpture’ is an instigation to hatred and violence, not art. Of course, sculptures can be irreverent but holding up a pistol to someone is not.” Salvini says he is looking forward to returning to “the capital of Campania [Naples] to see the traditional cribs on display [in nativity scenes]”.
He criticised the “artists, journals and intellectuals who invite hatred against someone, we’ve seen it many times”, and hopes that they will condemn the piece. Salvini stresses that he wants the work withdrawn from the Naples exhibition; Santangelo confirmed that the installation is still on show.
Salvini introduced hardline measures such as the closure of Italian ports to NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) vessels during his tenure as Italy’s minister of the interior; in September, he was ousted from the government when a new coalition was assembled by the prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
Scuotto told the Italian newspaper Mattino: “When I started to make the work, Salvini was still minister of the interior. I wanted to represent him as a big boy who plays a video game populated by zombies… I believe that his political message is childish, [it is] like a constant Play Station in which we must identify the enemy and bring them down.” The artist declined to comment further.