Right-wing journalist Pietrangelo Buttafuoco has been nominated to replace Roberto Cicutto as president of the prestigious Venice Biennale, according to multiple English and Italian news outlets.
Buttafuoco is a close friend of Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni and a supporter of her far-right Brothers of Italy party. He began his career as a writer for several right wing Italian newspapers and magazines and was once the leader of the Fronte della Gioventù, the youth wing of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement party that preceded Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, according to The Art Newspaper.
Despite Buttafuoco’s lack of managerial experience, supporters view his nomination as triumph for Italy’s cultural right and fatal blow to the Italian liberal/left which, according to Raffaele Speranzon, an Italian senator and member of the Brothers of Italy, “thought of the Biennale Foundation as a fiefdom where it could place friends and acolytes.” Speranzon has said that Buttafuoco’s nomination “represents the kind of sea change the Meloni government wants to extend to every cultural and social institution in the nation: figures will be chosen for their depth, competence and experience alone.”
Center-left politician Rachele Scarpa has said Speranzon’s comments “bring forth a chilling vision of how the right conceives the cultural institutions” in Italy. “What is most alarming is that he calls into question the work of an institution, such as La Biennale, whose sole aim must be to take care of its exhibitions and certainly not to make the [Brothers of Italy] happy.”
Italy’s minister of culture Gennaro Sangiuliano confirmed Buttafuoco’s nomination, which now has to be assessed by the cultural commissions in Italy’s Senate and House of Deputies before it becomes official. Their decision is to be made public on November 14, according to Artnet News.
Cicutto, who was appointed as president of the Biennial in 2020 by the then-culture minister Dario Franceschini, will step down as president when his contract ends in March.