Talking Statues of Rome
Beginning in the 16th century Roman’s have posted political satire and messages on a few ancient statues, providing an outlet for their voice. This provided a Utopian outlet for political discontent. Many of these statues located in busy piazzas and street corners are still in use today. However, when I was there in 2010, they had been silenced. The apocalypse for one of the oldest forms of free speech had occurred. Pasquino, the ringleader, was wrapped up behind a barrier supposedly “under renovation,” and the city had placed anti-vandal paint behind the second, Babuino, effectively silencing their voice. In the overwhelming silence, I had an anti-anti utopia idea to correct the end and bring back what could once be again.
Foreigners and Romans alike were asked to speak their minds, or voice their laments, as the statues had once done in the more ideal days of free speech. I videotaped what these ordinary people had to say, and then re-projected their voices and image onto the famous Talking Statues without the permission of the city. These videos capture the moments when the statues speak out against the governments once again, through the assistance of technology. This unauthorized projection project celebrates this tradition and gives a voice back to the silenced statues correcting the anti-utopian actions of the city officials in an anti-anti-utopian urban intervention. It is also a play on the street surveillance video, putting the power of video back into the hands of those usually watched on the street, and putting the video back onto the streets to speak out against those who typically look over the street’s shoulder.