The fishing village of Monopoli in Puglia placed a statue of a voluptuous mermaid in one of its squares. The artwork has been described as “too provocative”.
Created by students at the Luigi Rosso art school in Monopoli, the statue in a square named after the scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini. It has yet to be officially inaugurated.
Pictured during its installation, it became the subject of ridicule on social media. The Bari-based actor Tiziana Schiavarelli wrote on Facebook that a friend in Monopoli had “rightly expressed some perplexity about this ‘monument’”.
“It looks like a mermaid with two silicone breasts and, above all, a huge arse never seen before on a mermaid. At least not any I know.”
Schiavarelli stressed that she did not have an issue with the art students or the local council, which had commissioned the work. “But I am very amused by this thing … who knows if it will become a further attraction for tourists,” she added.
Headteacher defends the statue
Adolfo Marciano, the headteacher of the Luigi Rosso art school, defended the statue. He called it a “tribute to the great majority of women who are curvy”.
The students were tasked by the mayor of Monopoli to create several statues for the town, including one on the theme of the sea.
“The students got together and came up with the idea of a mermaid,” Marciano said. “The council was shown the scale model and said it was good, and then decided the completed sculpture would be placed in the square.”
Marciano said he viewed the work “as a representation of reality, in this case of the female body”. He added: “You see adverts on television with models who are very thin, but the mermaid is like a tribute to the great majority of women who are curvy, especially in our country. It would have been very bad if we had represented a woman who was extremely skinny.”
The sculpture is being kept covered until its inauguration. The students also created a statue dedicated to the victims of workplace accidents, which will be unveiled on Monday.
“This is much more important than the mermaid,” said Marciano.
It is rather amusing there has been such discussion over the statue in the week that the mayor of Florence honoured the American head teacher dismissed for showing students pictures of Michelangelo’s David.
However, the positioning of the statue may have something to do with the local disquiet. The statue overlooks a children’s playground, and is in a piazza commemorating Rita Levi Montalcini, one of Italy’s most respected women. Montalcini was a Nobel Prize-winning neurologist and a Holocaust survivor.