Renowned street artist destroys own work in protest over exhibition

An internationally-recognised Italian street artist has destroyed his own work in protest over a new exhibition ‘Street Art: Banksy & Co’ opening in Bologna on Friday (18 March).

On display at the Palazzo Pepoli, Museo della Storia di Bologna (Museum of the History of Bologna), the exhibition will feature 250 works of street art. After discovering that technicians had removed some of his work from their original street locations to be featured in the show, the street artist “Blu” responded by painting over nearly all of his remaining murals with grey paint. 

Supporters of Blu, the Leftist writers’ collective Wu Ming Foundation, released a statement on 12 March explaining the street artist’s decision:

“We are faced with arrogant landlords who act as colonial governors and think they’re free to take murals off our walls. The only thing that’s left to do is make these paintings disappear, to snatch them from those claws, to make hoarding impossible.”

The exhibition is backed by Genus Bononiae, what Wu Ming describes as a “cultural output” of one of Bologna’s largest banks, La Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna (known as Carisbo). It is also curated by one of the city’s most powerful men, Fabio Roversi Monaco, former President of Carisbo and current president of Genus Bononiae.

Blu has gained international recognition for his street art which can be found in as far-flung destinations as Krakow, Rio de Janeiro and Berlin. This is not the first time the artist has destroyed his own work in protest. In 2014, he allowed two famous murals he created in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district to be painted over in black.

The stunt was in response to the gentrification of the neighbourhood, a process in which the artist believed he had become an unwilling participant. Blu’s murals had become an attraction for guided street art tours and were used in marketing campaigns for the city.

Following last year’s groundbreaking legal dispute over a Banksy mural, it seems the ownership of street art remains as controversial an issue as ever. Find out how Boodle Hatfield were involved in last year’s case here.

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