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Italian museum cleaners mistook a contemporary art piece for trash

Photo courtesy of Museoin
“Dove andiamo a ballare stasera?” by Goldschmied & Chiari
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Dove andiamo a ballare questa sera?” (where are we going dancing tonight?) is an art installation by Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari, a Milan-based art duo, shown at the Museion in Bozen-Bolzano, in the South Tirol region of Italy.

The piece is intended as commentary on Italy’s 1980s “age of plenty,” a golden time for the Italian economy, which saw the rise of private television, a wave of optimism and parties aplenty. Under this cover of excitement, however, Italy was living some of its most corrupt years—and the early 1990s would be a rude awakening.

Goldschmied and Chiari’s installation portrays just that—the mess that follows the party, the leftovers for someone else to clean. But they surely did not expect that someone would, in fact, try to clean it up—on Oct. 24, cleaning personnel at the museum swept up Dove andiamo and threw it away.

Photo courtesy of Museoin
“Dove andiamo a ballare stasera?” by Goldschmied & Chiari

It didn’t take long for the staff to realize the mistake—and the artwork has since been salvaged from the garbage and reinstalled. The exhibition will be open to the public until Nov. 22.

On Oct. 27, in a written statement announcing that the art piece had been reinstalled, the museum commented, “This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened in the contemporary art world.”

For anyone who has ever been perplexed by a work of contemporary art, this public mistake should serve as reassurance that the difference between what’s art and what isn’t really can be difficult to perceive, as in one popular Italian comedy, where a pretentious crowd visiting the Venice Biennale mistakes a woman resting on a chair for an art piece.

The artists, however, were not amused. Showing no sense of humor about the admittedly funny episode, they told local newspaper Alto Adige (Italian) that “what happened was bad. It cannot be possible for an installation to end up in the rubbish bin.”

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