Pay $300,000 to burn sculpture of Spain's monarch

The buyer of the statue of Spain's King Felipe VI must burn the artwork within a year and film it as a performance.
The buyer of the statue of Spain's King Felipe VI must burn the artwork within a year and film it as a performance.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • If you want a 4m-tall sculpture of Spain's King Felipe VI and have a spare €200,000 (S$307,000), you are in luck.

There is just one catch - you have to agree to burn it down.

Made of wood and wax, the statue - called Ninot, the name given to puppets burnt in traditional festivities in the city of Valencia - that depicts the 51-year-old king in a navy blue suit and tie, was on display at the Arco art fair in Madrid last week. The event ended yesterday.

The sales agreement has a special requirement: The buyer must burn the artwork within a year and film it as a performance.

"You are not buying an object but a process," said a spokesman for Prometeo, the Italian gallery selling the work by a pair of Spanish artists, Santiago Sierra and Eugenio Merino.

After being burnt down, the only thing left of the statue would be a skull, the spokesman added.

The Ninot project comes after a painting by British graffiti artist Banksy, called Girl With Balloon, shredded itself seconds after being sold at auction in October last year - only to then increase in value.

"I see this as a performance. It's like Banksy," said art collector Nena von Stumm, visiting the art fair. "I cannot see this as a stupidity, I see it as a performance and something that nowadays is valid in art."

Sierra's show at Arco last year, Political Prisoners In Contemporary Spain, which featured photographs of jailed Catalan politicians, was withdrawn from the art fair and became the centre of a censorship row. He could well attract similar controversy this year with the statue of the king.

The European Court of Human Rights last year ruled against Spain for jailing two activists for burning pictures of former king Juan Carlos, King Felipe VI's father, in 2007.

Spanish courts have since taken a softer approach, seeing such acts as a form of political expression.

King Felipe and his wife Letizia inaugurated Arco on Thursday but did not view Ninot, a spokesman for the art fair said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2019, with the headline 'Pay $300,000 to burn sculpture of Spain's monarch'. Print Edition | Subscribe