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Ballin'! Italian Artist Unzips His Latest Protest

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Graziano Cecchini, the right-wing Italian art prankster, has struck again. Under police surveillance since last October—following a prank in which he dyed the waters of Rome's iconic Trevi Fountain red to protest the cost of organizing the Rome Film Festival—Cecchini was caught by police Wednesday after dumping 500,000 multicolored balls down the city's famous Spanish Steps. Video taken at the steps shows Cecchini, along with several assistants, turning the landmark into a scene from a McDonald's PlayLand (or, say, a coopted indie-rock-driven TV commercial). Cecchini was quoted as saying that each ball "represented a lie told by a politician," that the stunt had cost him almost $30,000, and that he creates art to "to stress our malaise." As city workers shoved the balls away, several tourists stuffed their pockets with them, and the inevitable eBay auctions popped up just a few hours later.

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