Chapman Brothers sculpture pulled from Rome art show

An Italian children's rights group has branded the ‘Piggyback’ statue ‘paedo-pornographic’

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"Piggyback" (1997) – pornographic or not?

Jake and Dinos Chapman's might be known as artistic arch-provocateurs, but one sculpture has gone too far for the Italian audiences. A nude fiberglass statue featuring two young girls, one holding a penis in her mouth, has been removed from a Rome gallery after complaints from a children's rights group. 

The 1997 "Piggyback" sculpture was exhibited as part of the Remembering is Not Enough exhibition from contemporary art gallery MAXXI, and had been on display since last December. But the Italian Observatory on the Rights of the Child branded the statue "paedo-pornographic" and campaigned for its removal. It was eventually pulled from display several weeks before the show was meant to finish in September. 

In a statement on the Observatory's website, president Antonio Marziale rubbished claims that the removal was an attack on artistic freedom, saying that their intention was "to avoid promoting depictions with a clear paedo-pornographic context behind the art". He also called for a "guarantee" that the work would "never be on show again". 

MAXXI director Anna Mattirolo told Italian media that the removal of the sculpture was a violation of the Chapman Brothers' right to freedom of expression.

"Crudity is part of the Chapmans' work, they are known for works that denounce a sick reality," she said. "They want to generate discussion about false morality and provoke debate and we firmly believe and support the freedom of expression of the artists."

What do you think – was it the right decision to pull "Piggyback"?

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