In a story that’s almost meant for The Onion rather than art news, an installation at the Museion Museum in Bolzano, Italy was recently trashed by the museum’s staff, mistaking the Ke$ha-esque work for literal garbage. The artists, Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari created the installation titled, “Where shall we go dancing tonight?” with the intention of highlighting Italy’s “age of plenty” after-party scene. In a time of political corruption and over-endulgance, the 1980s in Italy was “a period of consumerism, financial speculation, the advent of commercial TV and much partying.” The museum has already publicly apologized for this rather amusing incident and is currently in works with Goldschmied and Chiari to re-install the piece.
This isn’t the first time contemporary art has been hilariously (or tragically) mistaken as trash:
This past June a sculpture by the New Museum professor, Osman was dismantled and thrown away in Madison, Connecticut last week. Made of wood and Astroturf, “Corbu Bench” was installed as part of the town’s annual Sculpture Mile contemporary art show, after being exhibited in New York.
According to the Associated Press, a park maintenance worker told the property management company that he thought it was garbage left behind by skateboarders, so he tore it apart with a hammer and tossed it in a dumpster (and refused to help reassemble it).
In 2001, a gallery cleaner at London’s Eyestorm Gallery accidentally tossed out the installation “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”
by Damien Hirst after mistaking it as rubbish left behind from the opening party (in his defense, the installation consisted of piles of beer bottles, coffee cups, and overflowing ashtrays). Hirst apparently found the incident hilarious and re-created the scene, but this time with a sign that reads “Keep Off”.
In 1999, a museum guard cleaned up Tracey Emin’s (now iconic) “My Bed” installation, believing the trash-strewn bed had been vandalized. They made mothers everywhere proud by kindly straightening up the scene and making the bed.
In 2004, a Tate Britain employee accidentally threw away a bag of paper and cardboard that was part of German artist Gustav Metzger’s installation “Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art”. Mistaking a bag of garbage for…well…a bag of garbage, the cleaner tossed the art in a trash compactor, disfiguring it beyond repair. The artist remade the bag, which is now put in a safe place when the museum is closed.
In 2004, the sculpture “Hole And Vessel II ” by Anish Kapoor was thrown in the garbage during construction at London-based fine arts storage company, Fine Art Logistics Ltd. Considered a significant piece during a transitional point in his art career, Kapoor was more than bummed.
In 2014, a cleaning woman at Italian gallery, Sala Murat mistook modernist artist Paul Branca’s installation of crumpled newspaper, cardboard, and cookies that were scattered on the floor as garbage left behind by gallery-goers.