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Rubbished: contemporary art thrown away by cleaner

20 February 2014

A cleaner has unwittingly thrown out items from a contemporary art display at Sala Murat in Bari, southern Italy, mistaking them for rubbish. Broken biscuits, pieces of paper and cardboard were strewn on the floor as part of the group installation ‘Mediating Landscape’. The works are reported to have a value of around £8,200.

‘It’s clear the cleaning person did not realise she had thrown away two works and their value’, city marketing commissioner Antonio Maria Vasile told the press. ‘In any case, the insurance will cover the damages caused’.

Flip, the Naples-based project space behind ‘Mediating Landscape’, explains the exhibition’s premise on its website:

Participants include artists, writers, and curators whose works are formally incorporated within the display landscape as a unified installation, blurring the boundaries of their practice. We are interested in the unpredictability of the narratives that arise from this type of organisation…

Be careful what you wish for. This probably wasn’t exactly the narrative they had in mind, but as the latest of several incidents involving galleries and the rubbish collectors, it certainly reopens some lively discussions about the display, meaning, and reception of contemporary art. The organisers were after ‘tension and dialogue’. Perhaps this unfortunate start is in keeping with the spirit of the show after all?

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