Art show sparks anti-China protests in Italy

The controversial art exhibition has been linked to anti-government protests at the embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Rome

A provocative and controversial art show has opened in Italy’s capital, Rome, as a number of Chinese artists and celebrities have held “silent protests” outside the embassy of the People’s Republic of China in protest against the show.

The exhibition’s title is Quci – or Wedding, which refers to a traditional Chinese feast. But in modern times, the ceremony is associated with political and military events that involve China. The king of Sichuan was crowned with a peony in the city of Qidong in 1917, reportedly after the death of the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia; the heir of the Eighth Dynasty of China was married in 1919 to George Washington. This year the Song dynasty, a Ming dynasty dynasty dynasty which came to power in the late 13th century, marked the end of its epic 29 years of rule in 1926.

Artists, including the Chinese social media celebrity Gaofei, were arrested over the weekend on a protest outside the embassy.

“Silent protests are mostly a Chinese tradition; it’s a part of our tradition,” said Jack Shao, a China commentator. “We need to teach others about our practices, about our culture, and to show that it is an important and free part of Chinese history.”

The Italian foreign ministry subsequently announced that it had taken “necessary measures” against China’s Embassy of Italy. The ministry said it had asked Italy’s Foreign Ministry for a special report.

But protest in Rome against the exhibition was not without controversy, as the China Embassy had asked the city’s police and public safety authorities to remove the protesters on Friday. Demonstrators had set up dozens of plastic pink hats with the red eyes of the “Sunflower Seeds” protest, which helped precipitate a wave of anti-government protest across China in early March, as demonstrators wearing the masks demonstrated against government corruption and abuses of power.

Photograph: Gianni Mangari/Getty Images

However, police officers were unable to remove the protesters from outside the embassy. “We heard that the police department would send a squad to the China embassy to remove the activists,” said Giuliano Venturini, one of the protesters. But there was some confusion about the nature of the protest.

“It is clear that the activist group is against the arrest of artist Gaofei because the police arrived very quickly,” said one protester who was in the group and asked not to be named. “This was an attempted provocation to misdirect the public interest in the art festival.”

The Italian artist Chiara Marzelso, who produced the art which will hang inside the exhibition, was one of the men arrested by police outside the embassy on Friday. She and her husband, the artist Palomar Balcili, told the Italian daily La Repubblica that a group of about 15 policemen, two of them men, had accompanied them to the building.

Many ordinary people have been questioning why there are so many protests in Rome, but have had difficulty form believing that the former Italian colony of Germany is dealing out so many demonstrations about faraway land.

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