A statue by artist Salvatore Scuotto, on display in Naples, has sparked a controversy. It depicts the former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini shooting at two African migrant “zombies.”
A statue by Neapolitan artist Salvatore Scuotto that shows former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini with a gun in hand, shooting at two Africans depicted as zombies, has sparked a controversy. The work is titled “The Party is Over,” one of the catchphrases Salvini used when speaking about migrants and the fight against illegal immigration.
Scuotto, who signs his art with the name Morales, is using his first exhibition to take direct aim at the leader of the anti-immigration and Euroskeptic League party.
The sculpture show was inaugurated on Saturday at the Nabi Gallery in Naples, and Scuotto’s work left the former minister indignant. “You don’t do that, just to get some publicity, how squalid,” Salvini said. “The ‘sculpture’ that depicts me while I shoot at migrants is truly disgusting, it’s instigating hate and violence, rather than art. I can’t wait to go back to Naples to admire the traditional nativity scenes, not this filth,” Salvini said.
Salvini continued to speak about the statue in a Facebook live video. “It’s not funny, a sculpture bearing my face that shoots two immigrants, it doesn’t make me laugh,” he said. “It’s inciting hate and violence. It’s a demented, criminal thing, and then you find someone who really thinks Salvini is like that. So I hope that pseudo-artwork is removed,” he said.
‘Salvini’s political message is infantile’
The sculpture is part of a collective in which Scuotto is participating. He is known for his art studio, La Scarabottola, in the center of Naples, where, with other artists, he has pushed for innovative takes on the traditional nativity scene figurines Naples is famous for. His take on the figures include devils, nude women, and homosexual crossdressing men known in Neapolitan popular culture as “femminielli.”
“When I began to create, Salvini was still interior minister and I wanted to depict him as a big baby playing a video game full of ghosts; you can see what I mean by looking at the details of the gun, which is intentionally oversized,” Scuotto explained.
“I’m saying that his political message is infantile, like a constant Playstation game in which you have to find the enemy and fight him,” he said.
Written on the sculpture’s gun are the words “Game Over.” Scuotto said he used the phrase normally used to “identify the end of the video game.”
“Who knows what it means. The end of Salvini or of his enemies? I didn’t create this Salvini parody because I’m a communist. At most I’d aspire to be an anarchist. I don’t believe in the left, too lukewarm. I don’t want to express any belonging, but I know what I don’t believe in,” Scuotto said.
Criticism by the League in Campania
The sculpture infuriated members of the League party in the region of Campania, such as the MP Pina Castiello, who called it “the scale model of a vulgar gimmick, created only for grim self-promotional purposes.”
Castiello said she hopes the exhibition’s curator will “quickly remove this ‘monument to hate.'” Another League MP, Gianluca Cantalamessa, said “so-called works of art that mystify reality to promote a culture of hate demean the inestimable value of the Neapolitan culture for the mere niche interests of a few, starting with the worst mayor that Naples has ever had; Neapolitans deserve much better.” Cantalamessa was presumably referring to the current mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris, a former magistrate on the left-wing of Italian politics who nevertheless has been a member of several different political movements since he said he was deluded by traditional left-party politics.
League MPs in the European Parliament, Lucia Vuolo and Valentino Grant, said they are angered by the statue too, and a member of Forza Italia, Sandra Lonardo, said the statue does nothing but depict “squalid violence.”