Cleaning staff at art gallery mistakes modern art installation for trash

One man’s masterpiece is another’s mess. That’s the takeaway from a story about what the cleaning staff at an art gallery in Bolzano, Italy, took away last Saturday morning. The crew hauled off several dozen spent wine bottles and a small mountain of confetti, plus cigarette butts, streamers, a disco ball, and a few items of apparel strewn across the floor, which they had assumed to be the remnants of a wild party held the previous evening.

In fact, what they had tossed, according to Italian newspaper Alto Adige, was a modern art installation. Before it was carted out to the curb, the “artwork” looked like this.

Credit: Goldschmied & Chiari via Facebook
Credit: Goldschmied & Chiari via Facebook

The installation was the work of Milanese artists Goldschmied & Chiari, who had titled it “We were going to dance tonight.” It was intended as a satirical commentary on the excesses of the Italian political classes during the 1980s.

The gallery’s curator, Letizia Ragaglia, told the paper:

Of course we warn staff not to clean away art. We told them just to clean the foyer because that’s where the event on Friday night had been. Evidently, they mistook the installation for the foyer.

Maybe for their next opus, Goldschmied & Chiari can fashion a vestibule out of painted sheet rock and title it “This is not the foyer.”

The pair, Alto Adige reports, is busy reconstructing the artwork.

Newsweek’s Felicity Capon notes:

It is not the first time art has been thrown out by cleaners. In 2001, a Damien Hirst installation consisting of a collection of beer bottles, coffee cups and ashtrays, was cleared away from an art gallery in London. In 2004, a bag of paper and cardboard by German artist Gustav Metzger was thrown out by cleaners at the Tate Modern, in London.

Last year, a cleaning company in the southern Italian city of Bari had to pay a €10,000 bill after one of its staff accidentally threw away artwork — which included biscuit crumbs — that was part of a modern art exhibition.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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