Red Trevi Fountain Prankster on Trial for Making a Mess

posted by
Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

‘Red Trevi’ Man Faces Charges
October 13, 2008

Prankster ‘defaced’ fountain, prosecutors say

Rome, October 22 – A man who made worldwide headlines last year by turning the waters of the Trevi Fountain red is facing charges of defacing monuments, judicial sources said Monday.

Rome prosecutors have wound up their probe into the October 19 incident and have concluded that Graziano Cecchini won’t be charged with the more serious crime of damaging Italy’s cultural heritage because cleaners managed to remove all traces of the red dye he used.

However, the prankster should still be put on trial for vandalising one of Italy’s most famous monuments, the prosecutors said.

The waters of Rome’s most famous fountain turned blood red when Cecchini, 54, threw his dye into the basin in a bizarre act of vandalism apparently inspired by the Futurists of the early 20th century.

Cecchini, 54, a former right-wing extremist, carried out his stunt during the Rome Film Festival, delighting tourists and enraging officials.

”There’s the red carpet, Valentino red and now red Trevi too,” he said, adding that he was trying to raise awareness of the plight of Italy’s casual workers.

The dye assault was claimed by ‘FTM Futurist Action 2007’, a previously unknown group which said it aimed to turn this ”grey bourgeois society into a triumph of colour”.

Cecchini followed up the attack on the iconic fountain by sending about half a million coloured balls thundering down Rome’s Spanish Steps on January 16.

As tourists rushed about picking up souvenir balls, police quickly cordoned off the area and called in the municipal refuse collectors. They arrived a little later with large nets to scoop up the coloured spheres.

Cecchini said the prank was a protest against the ”balle” (balls, or lies) allegedly fed to a gullible public by politicians of all stripes.

The self-styled ‘activist artist’ is currently on trial in Rome for ”interrupting public services”.

He faces a fine for creating a mess in a public place and stopping buses and taxis running.

Cecchini won several plaudits after his Trevi feat and appeared on a number of TV shows. One of his admirers was Milan’s then culture chief, prominent art critic Vittorio Sgarbi.

Sgarbi also liked the Spanish Steps balls, saying ”anarchy is a typical feature of contemporary art”.

Photo: Evan Theroux

Related link:

  • More Balls Than You’ll Ever Want