January 31, 2016

Italian government covers up art for Iranian presidential visit

Artnet - https://news.artnet.com/art-world/italy-iran-statue-censorship-416405Italian political and cultural commentators have come out in droves to bash the Italian government's censorship of nude classical Roman statues; reportedly to avoid offending Iranian president Hassan Rouhani during a state visit.

Rouhani was visiting Rome as part of his tour to meet European leaders to discuss various international business deals, after economic sanctions against Iran were lifted. The two leaders met at the Capitoline Museum for a joint press conference on Monday, where many member of the press in attendance noted that the nude statues on view in the museum had been encased in white, wooden boxes.

The New York Times pointed out that the encounter was always likely to result in a culture clash given Iran's culture of Islamic conservatism contrasted against Italy's Roman Catholic and secular society reputed for its indulgence.

However this assumption didn't stop the Italian media from speculating over who was responsible for the censorship of the artworks. Some reported the cover-up was requested by the Iranian delegation, whilst others blamed Italian government officials.

Massimo Gramellini of the Turin-based newspaper La Stampa accused the Renzi government of compromising Italy's secular values in exchange for lucrative contracts. According to the journalist's column, the statues were covered to stop the Iranian president from suffering “hormonal shock and rip up the freshly signed contracts with our Italian industries."

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