“Officially its name is L.O.V.E. – so it stands for love – but everyone can read between the lines and take away the message they see for themselves.”
– Maurizio Cattelan
If you stroll into Milan’s Piazza degli Affari, you are bound to feast your eyes on a shocking sight: A 4 to 5 meters high marble sculpture of a veiny hand giving its beholders the middle finger. The middle finger is placed on a 7 m base. The display of the fascist salute has a twist though, all the other fingers have been chopped off to leave the middle finger, considered an obscene offensive gesture. The sculpture by Maurizio Cattelan is right in front of the fascist-styled Palazzo Mezzanotte, the Italian stock exchange building. To many people, it seems to flip it off.
Maurizio Cattelan – Him, 2001, wax, human hair, suit, polyester resin and pigment, 101×43.1×63.5cm, Edition of 3 + AP
Adolf Hitler on his knees
How much penance do the atrocities that Adolf Hitler committed in his lifetime require to be forgiven? This is perhaps the question which Maurizio Cattelan wanted to arouse in his audience when he drew a picture of the Nazi leader in a kneeling position. There is nothing wrong with someone kneeling down in prayer and in fact, it is an aspect of humanity that keeps us humble. With this in mind, it is hard to imagine that the person seeking forgiveness exercised untold torture on fellow human beings. If approached from behind, one cannot help but marvel at the self-discipline and commitment that this young boy eludes. It is not until one gets close enough that they realize that the neatly pressed schoolboy attire, fresh raven hair and well-polished shoes, actually belong to a leader whose name still raises goosebumps in the present day.