Trash People at Piazza del Popolo in Rome

Most of my regular readers know that I was in Rome last week – please scroll down if you haven’t red my two posts! On Saturday I had the most adventures walk in the city close to the Vatican. Walking towards a big town square I saw a huge amount of statues in rows. Curious as I am, I had to check it out and this was the first view:

All pics taken with my Nikon CoolPix S2 – click to enlarge!

The Piazza del Popolo is one of the most famous places in Rome. Starting from the Middle Ages it was the main entrance to the city from north. It was the main meeting place of the foreigners, rather than of Romans. The place was turned into a square by Sixtus V, who erected in the middle of it a 24m high (with the basement 36m) Egyptian obelisk (13th-12th centuries b.C.). The name in modern Italian literally means “piazza of the people”, but historically it derives from the poplars (populs in Latin, pioppo in Italian) after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name.

This piazza served as an exposition hall, a stadium, and a theatre for popular plays. The face of the piazza changed a great deal from the 1400’s to the 1800’s, with the reconstruction of the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo (to the right in the picture above), the placement of the Flaminian obelisk at the centre of the piazza, and the addition of neo-classical elements by Giuseppe Valadier.

So what I saw while entering this square was actually HA Schult’s famous exhibition; ‘Trash People’:

Not since the invention of abstract painting has any art form been as thoroughly discussed as action art. Abstract art had a profound impact on thinking and creating during the first half of the 20th century; and now many aspects of action art have likewise passed directly into everyday life.

It was a reminder of that everyday element has been influencing art more and more strongly, and art has been responding to everyday life more and more quickly. In no other era has there been anything like this dialogue between art and everyday life. The range of materials used in art has never been so wide as today. Anything can be made into art. Mankind’s confines have narrowed; the freedom of art is unlimited. We live in the trash time: we produce trash and we become trash. Therefore HA Schult’s ‘Trash People’ are images of ourselves.

In 1996, when HA Schult has installed one thousand life sized ‘Trash People’, in the Amphitheatre of Xanten, the idea was born to send them around the world. Like the pyramids of Giza send messages to us from times past, HA Schult’s ‘Trash People’ will travel as a ‘now time expression’ to the world’s most important spots. As far as I know, the next place is Placa Reail in Barcelona, Spain and then New York and then in 2008 in Antarctics. If you have the chance I would say: Carpe Diem!

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