Sapri: Italy sexism row over statue in see-through dress

Controversy in Italy over ‘gleaner’ statue in Sapri.

A controversy has broken out in Italy over a ‘sexist’ statue representing a female gleaner from a famous 19th-century poem by Italian writer and poet Luigi Mercantini.

The bronze statue was unveiled on Saturday in Sapri, in the southern province of Salerno, in the presence of the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) leader and former Italian premier Giuseppe Conte.

The statue pays reference to Mercantini’s poem La spigolatrice di Sapri (The Gleaner of Sapri), about Carlo Pisacane’s ill-fated 1857 expedition against the Kingdom of Naples, in which 300 people lost their lives.

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The artwork – depicting a woman in a transparent dress – has caused a storm on Italian social media amid accusations of sexism.

Calling for the statue to be “knocked down”, the Donne democratiche PD Palermo have blasted the “antiquated and deeply sexist representation of a female figure.”

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However the sculptor behind the artwork – Emanuele Stifano – has defended the statue, writing on Facebook that had it been up to him the figure would have been “completely naked… simply because I am a lover of the human body.”

The artist also said he thought it was “useless” to offer explanations to those “who absolutely want to see depravity” in the statue.