A group calling itself the ATM Azionefuturista 2007 has turned one of Rome's most famous monuments into a bloodied protest canvas.
One of its members, in full Futurist glee, “threw a bucket of red paint or dye into Rome's Trevi Fountain on Friday, coloring the waters of the 18th-century monument bright red in front of a crowd of astonished tourists and residents.”
The man escaped, leaving the fountain, which normally runs on a closed cycle, spouting red water. Police arrived and technicians briefly shut off the water before restoring a clear flow.
Experts said the baroque fountain was not permanently damaged and the marble statues depicting the sea deity Neptune on his chariot had not absorbed the color.
At first I thought the guy read an advance copy of The New York Times Magazine's extended report on the neverending water problems of the American Southwest, and so was compelled to carry out this guerrilla attack to highlight the impending climate change disaster to an audience of intensive carbon-producing tourists. Like a self-righteous Moses to a bunch of uber-consumerist Ramesseses.
But alas, based on leaflets found nearby, officials think that he was simply protesting against the “expenses incurred in organizing the Rome Film Festival.” The red waters of the Trevi, then, “symbolically referred to the event's red carpet.”
It was one simple gesture by one person, but the whole world has taken notice. So perhaps next year, another famous fountain will be made to spew vermillion waters — or preferably, made to stagnate and concoct a toxic stew of fluorescent green algae — to successfully call international attention to our present shared hydrological crisis.
Since the fountain is constantly being monitored by CCTV cameras, there is a video of the incident:
But here are some clearer photos, courtesy of Corriere della Serra:
The spirit of Umberto Boccioni still hovers over the heady waters of Italy.