roberta buiani on Fri, 27 May 2011 23:19:25 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Italian artist gets "punished" for parodying Flash Art Italia.

Italian artist gets punished for parodying FlashArt Italia.

Cloning or parodying websites of big institutions or corporations might make people smile, but doesn't usually get much more attention beyond that.  very seldom are these efforts considered "dangerous" and even if they are, the common and best  strategy by those parodied is  ignoring them. this is the best way to make these works virtually invisible. 

this is why it is very surprising and troubling to see what just happened to  young net artist Luca Lo Coco.

about 5 years ago, outraged by the hypocrisy of the mainstream art system and by the commodification that transpired from well known arts magazines, he decided to build his own version of Flash Art Italia. 

This would be interpreted by a number of people as another work of netart (especially by the FlashArt folks, who, one would imagine, should know that these works are not a novelty in this field) . therefore, it would be …well..ignored.

Not a chance. 

the director of Flash Art, Giancarlo Politi, took it personally. Luca was sued, his website closed and later condemned to pay 7000 euros for the legal costs (originally mr. politi had asked for 200,000Euro). not being able to produce that amount, he had all his furniture confiscated. 


is this some kind of demonstration that the powerful and strong always prevails over the young and unequipped?
a personal revenge?
obtusity (and ignorance)? 

while we are mobilizing to help Luca and to make this thing very public, I thought I would disseminate this episode beyond the italian context.


ps. here is a short account of what happened to Luca. it is worth a read. I loved his story telling 

It was around 2005, when I found myself in one of those not-too-pleasant situations—whose outcome, as soon as they are over, often produces strong creative drives. I decided to buy a couple of contemporary arts magazines to find out who would be today’s Picassos. I was approaching the world of art with the same naïve spirit of a kid entering a park to play with his ball….

As soon as I opened what I thought was the most striking magazine, I was left semi-horrified by the huge amount of pages dedicated to the ads before I was even able to reach the first page really dedicated to the arts. This so-longed page appeared with a title –in capital letters—“Letters to the director.”Next to the title, a bold guy, portrayed in a photo that appeared to mimic one of those commemorative pictures of saints. A delicate purple line framed the picture, reminding me of the vestments of a saddened priest during lent. After reading the first few letters, I realized that I hadn’t found in them anything but the lessons of a bitter teacher who was mercilessly chastising his students.

I decided to keep browsing the magazine. I closed it half an hour later. I had opened it to look for art but I had only found the art market
At that point, I felt the urge to express my surprise. As a very natural reaction, I decided to project my frustration using the Net. I had no knowledge whatsoever of the medium, so I turned to my friend –a webmaster—for advice. My friend Giulio gave me www.ashartonline.comas a birthday present. I remember that I was so ignorant about HTML programming that in order to help him reproduce the site of the magazine, I handed him a sheet with some measurements in cm (taken form my computer screen):]

Even right now, I don’t know exactly why I decided to create a website to vent my frustrations. My approach was absolutely instinctive: I hadn’t heard of NetArt yet, nor had I heard of any other form of art online. However, I came out with this site,, which was active between January and June. The site had a graphic design that resembled the platform it was imitating. “Ash” was missing two letters only “fl” to become “Flashart.” This was enough though to convey a different meaning brought up by the word “ash” in the was similar to, not the same. A few little differences in the news, some corrections in some articles enacted the criticism. Furermore, there was a forum open to everybody. The project was doing rather well. People subscribing to it were increasing. Among the sections in the forum there was a part dedicated to “Letters to the director part two", a section dedicated to those who had received unpolite replies from the director (in the paper magazine). The replies in this section kept multiplying, until, I think, they really bothered the subject to whom they were addressed. However, what really triggered his reaction was the publication in three weeks of the “ash art diary”, a collection of email addresses of Italian artists, ctitics curators. It was possible to download the list for free. The website received hundreds of downloads in a few minutes.

On 31 July 2007, a bailiff, soaked with 40 C worth of sirocco from Palermo, knocked at my door and handed me a cute pile consisting of dozens of pages sent to me by the lawyers of the “super-director.” The judicial cause was starting. The obfuscation of the site and four-five years of hearings and documents followed. At the end, the final sentence condemned me to pay the legal expenses (The fee requested to make up for the damage was over 200,000 euros!) Since I am not able to satisfy this fee, the “Director” insists that my belongings be confiscated. 18 May 2011 everything I own at my current residence were confiscated. My mom and brother want to kick me out.

If I was asked the question: “would you do it again?” I would reply without hesitation “absolutely.” at the end of the day I still believe in the “unadulterated” arts.

Luca Lo Coco

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