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Vezzoli’s church stuck in limbo

Italian artist’s plans to rebuild a 19th-century church brick by brick at MoMA PS1 are scuppered after local residents object to its removal

The church of Madonna del Carmine in Montegiordano is now sitting in a storage hanger

Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli’s plans to rebuild a 19th-century church in the courtyard of MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York, have been scuppered after Italian authorities blocked the export of the building, which has been dismantled brick by brick. At the time of posting, part of the church ruins were in storage in a remote hangar in the port town of Gioia Tauro in Calabria.

According to local press reports, Vezzoli bought the Madonna del Carmine church, which was located in the Calabrian village of Montegiordano, on the internet. But local residents objected to the removal of the deconsecrated edifice; the transfer project has subsequently been halted by the local cultural superintendent in Cosenza who declined to comment.

According to the New York Times, local prosecutors may bring legal action against the artist. Vezzoli told The Art Newspaper: “I have signed a contract with the [church’s] owner that guaranteed it was free from any restrictions, either from the government, the church or cultural heritage [department]. I have acted in good faith.” ‬The Italian ministry of culture is, meanwhile, trying to resolve the matter.

The planned exhibition at MoMA PS1 is part of a “Trinity” of shows that launched earlier this year at the Maxxi museum in Rome. The Italian leg ended last weekend (24 November) with New York planned as the next stop.

The third part of Vezzoli’s exhibition trilogy is scheduled to open at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, next year. “MOCA has confirmed that the show will open on 27 April,” Vezzoli says.

Meanwhile, Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1, says that he hopes to show works by Vezzoli at the museum late 2014.

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