A museum chief in Naples has begun torching contemporary works of art in protest at budget cuts that have hit Italy's cultural institutes particularly hard.
Antonio Manfredi, who runs the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum, started yesterday by setting fire to a painting by the French artist Séverine Bourguignon.
Bourguignon said she felt saddened by the protest but nonetheless supported it, and watched proceedings via Skype.
"It's terrible – a dreadful scene," Mr Manfredi said. "But we are convinced this will succeed in waking up the institutions, not only locally but also regionally and nationally."
He said the art works were headed for destruction anyway because of the cuts, and added that the museum planned to burn three pieces a week. A local artist, Rosaria Matarese, is due to set fire to one of her works today. The seven-year-old museum has built a substantial and respected collection.
The local mayor, Enzo Carfora, criticised Mr Manfredi's campaign, saying: "There has never been a [local] administration that has taken the problems of the contemporary art museum so seriously and sought to provide concrete and realistic solutions."