More Balls Than You’ll Ever Want

posted by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Pranksters

A Ball Bonanza at the Spanish Steps
by Mike Nizza
January 16, 2008
The Lede

Updated, 3:49 p.m., scroll for video.

Graziano Cecchini"™s Ball ExtravaganzaA greyish 18th-century landmark in Rome was transformed into a colorful mess today when a half-million plastic balls were dumped at the top of the Spanish Steps.

The balls bounced downhill before filling the Barcaccia fountain, leaving surprised passers-by and tourists snapping pictures of a scene that recalled the indoor-playground ball pits that spark joyful frolicking by children of all ages.

Many people collected some of the balls and took them away as an “unforgettable souvenir of this event,” which was pulled off by Graziano Cecchini, the man who turned Trevi Fountain blood-red last October.

“It is an artistic operation that documents with art the problems that we have in Italy,” Mr. Cecchini said at the scene. He was later detained by police, news agencies reported.

Graziano CecchiniAmid the excitement, several shopkeepers declared themselves baffled “” and unimpressed.

“It was a lot of balls “” and that was it,” said Gilberto Guibbini, 38, who had trouble arriving at his job at a shoe store because the stunt forced the closing of streets leading to the Spanish Steps. “I don”™t know why.”

“There is nothing interesting about it,” he added. “He just wants attention.”

Barcaccia fountain with Graziano Cecchini"™s balls

Update, 3:49 p.m. This YouTube video captures the prank in all its glory. Enjoy:

Update, 3:54 p.m. A colleague pointed out echoes in the world of advertising: a commercial for Sony Bravia televisions, and another for a soft drink called Tango.