Marina Abramovic has been attacked by the Italian far right for a poster she designed for the Barcolana sailing regatta in the Gulf of Trieste. A right-wing deputy mayor has objected to the tagline, “We’re all in the same boat”.
Each year an artist is invited to create a poster design for the world-renowned event
It all started 50 years ago when 51 sailing boats lined up on the start line in light winds for the first edition of Barcolana. There were no illusions of grandeur; it was to be simple. Pure, regatta, open to everyone, held at the end of the racing season on the second Sunday of October. The only requirement to join was to have, or to join, a sailing boat!
Since the beginning, Barcolana has been organised by the yacht club Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano (SVBG), a small club, whose club burgee was inspired by the peace flag, set up just a few months earlier in December 1968. Barcolana has grown in stature over the past fifty years and now welcomes competitors from all over the world in a festival atmosphere to celebrate together the spirit of sailing.
The 50th edition poster designed by Abramovic for the October event was created in collaboration for the Illy coffee brand. It was showcased in July as to promote a message of respect for the environment.
However far-right Lega party, Matteo Salvini, stated Italian ports would be closed to migrant rescue ships, Trieste’s Lega deputy mayor, Paolo Polidori, on Facebook criticised the poster writing, that it was: “Unacceptable, in bad taste, immoral to make political propaganda out of an event, the Barcolana, that belongs to the entire city”. He also compared the poster to a Communist image of Chairman Mao Zedong.
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Polidori said that the poster should be removed from leaflets, invitations and official brochures and “banned: in Trieste and the rest of the world”. He reportedly threatened to withdraw city council funding for the event totalling €30,000.
Polidori added to the controversy by ranting on Facebook that the issue had been resolved a month ago and that “the poster…a horrible as well as misleadingly political work, will not be displayed in the territory of Trieste”. He denied having threatened to pull funding from the Barcolana. When asked if he approved of Abramovic’s poster, he declined to comment.
A regatta spokeswoman said the poster has not been withdrawn or censored and states that it will be used for “national and international” marketing of the Barcolana as planned. Abramovic has not yet commented.