Monday, October 4, 2010

Ugly Venice- not an oxymoron, unfortunately

An article in today's La Repubblica has brought to my attention the unbelievable presence of massive advertising signs in Italy, covering famed monuments. The problem is particularly bad in Venice, where the Doge's Palace and the nearby Bridge of Sighs (renamed "bridge of signs" by a British wag) have been sponsored by the reprehensible Coca-Cola.

Understandably, international figures in the art and architecture world have protested, headed by the excellent Norman Foster. The Venetian response from new mayor Giorgio Orsoni: "Do these illustrious personages think we're savages with a ring through our noses?"

Actually, Giorgio, the people you dismiss in a most politically incorrect manner as savages-with-ring-in-nose would never come up with something so esthetically and morally wrong. It takes centuries and centuries of civilization to hone these skills of self-serving hypocrisy, rationalization and creeping nihilism. This is the latest chapter in the long history of Venetian decadence, since they let Napoleon walk right in and take over in 1797. The thousand-year republic went out not with a bang but with a whimper. Maybe not even a whimper.

Giorgio informs us indignantly that they would not be able to finance the restoration of the monuments without this money. What did they do before 2008, when this despicable practice began? Venice and all of Italy has been crumbling for centuries. But it has only been lately that an unheard-of and unbridled commodification of everything has begun to take place, globally. And Mayor Orsoni and his predecessor, the philosopher-doge Cacciari, have given in to this, supinely, very like their predecessors in the late 18th-century. And what about taxation (and enforcement) on the incredible amounts of money pouring into the city from tourists? The same tourists who are being horribly cheated by paying obscene prices and having their experience ruined by obtrusive publicity. And to think that Cacciari and Orsoni are left-of-center politicians.

I could say more, but not without risking legal trouble.