The Evil Empire
Subject: Religious Explicit Sexuality
Medium: Film Video
Artist: Federico Solmi (b. 1973)
Confronting Bodies: Local judge named Bruno Giangiacomo
Date of Action: January 2009
Location: Arte Fiera in Bologna, Italy
Description of Artwork: The hand-drawn animation is set in "Vatic-Anal-City" in the year 2046 and portrays the exploits of a fictional pope who is addicted to pornography. A number of related objects accompany the piece, including a crucifix that features Solmi as the pope character with a large grin and an erection.
The Incident: New York-based Italian artist Federico Solmi is in trouble with the law after his work, The Evil Empire, was shown by Naples Not Gallery at the recent Arte Fiera Bologna art fair, Jan. 23-26, 2009. The project -- which was also seen at New Yorks LMAK Projects, Mar. 20-Apr. 19, 2008, coinciding with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the city -- consists of hand-drawn animation depicting the exploits of a fictional pope in "Vatic-Anal-City," in the year 2046, wrestling with a porn addiction. It is accompanied by related objects, including one -- a crucifix featuring a self-portrait of the artist as the Pope character, with a massive, crimson-headed erection -- that apparently got him in trouble. According to reports, on the last day of the fair, a local judge named Bruno Giangiacomo got wind of the provocative art project, and ordered that it be confiscated.
Results of Incident: Catherine Thompson of LMAK reports that the artist was charged with religious offense, blasphemy and obscenity. Solmi armed himself with two lawyers, but the charges were dropped.