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Modern Nativity

In conservative and a little provincial countries such as Italy, it’s never that hard to raise scandal or indignation, especially when it comes to tradition or some aspects of national and religious identity. Here we are dealing with a Nativity scene, so all the papers these days are talking about a real “storm” on the municipality of Acquaviva delle Fonti, Bari, and on its mayor, who had “the audacity” to define the contempt as a piece of art: “When art causes scandal and when even the religious message is ‘scandalous,’ this means that the goal has been achieved: to shake our ‘pacified’ worldview, to insinuate doubt, to make us react.”

The work is a very unique representation of the Nativity, where St. Joseph and the Madonna are represented by two mannequins-migrants who risk sinking into a sea of plastic bottles, with a black Jesus Child on a life preserver. The sign accompanying the installation says: “The child is born in the sea, where with Joseph and Mary, refugees, not welcomed by anyone, lives the experience that many migrants face in our Mediterranean Sea. And the plastic sea as the background of the Nativity, is a warning call about pollution.” The work, carried out by the patronal parties committee and with the support of the municipal administration, wants to be a denunciation against the “traditionalists” who have described it as “ridiculous” on the social media and uptight newspapers.

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