A politically charged exhibit by Swedish artists in the city of Malmoe featured two live beggars as props in an attempt by the artists to raise awareness about global inequality. However, rather than getting the message across about the Romanian minority, it’s being taking as a disrespectful swipe at both the Romanians and Swedes.
These views are reflected in the comments from visitors that range from being uncomfortable, to how bothered they were that poverty came so close. The actual comments from some of the visitors were exactly the type of behavior that the artists were aiming their radar at, but unfortunately, the message was lost with the backlash from both sides about the exhibit.
The street beggars in question are Lucas Lacatus and his girlfriend Marcella Cheresi, both under the age of 30. Luca and his girlfriend were begging in Malmoe when they were spotted for the exhibit by the artists. They were offered the opportunity to stay indoors, out of the cold, windy streets, in exchange for assuming the role of props for the exhibit. The promise of being able to quadruple what they make in a day in two hours was also too good of an offer to turn down. The part that got the two artists in trouble, however, was the stipulation that Lucas and his girlfriend have to still act like they were begging as part of the exhibit.
Lucas’s home needs to be rebuilt as it was obliterated by a fire two years ago, which caused him to lose two of his four children to social services. He still does not have custody of his two other children who stay comfortably with trusted family members. Marcella is just as unfortunate and has her two children staying with her sister until the couple’s conditions improve. The bright side to their situation would be that the couple is expecting their first child together, so with the money made from this exhibit, their good fortune is turning.
However, the reflection of what people think of them is still startling. The discrimination in the current area is widespread and even goes to the top, as many European countries have banned begging. Even the Romanian president has made scathing remarks about the Romanian group and how they live as a whole. For what it’s worth, Sweden is an exception to the ban, although no one knows for how long. In the long run, even if Luca and Marcella felt disrespected by taking on the project, they were in no position to say no in the first place. That’s where some groups are against Anders Carlsson, the artistic director of the institute.
Regardless of whether the exhibit got its message across or not, it still raised an important eyebrow to an often overlooked minority. Several important figures from Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Aaron Israelson, and even Erland Kaldaras are weighing in with their opinions – and there will be many more comments as long as this exhibit stays open.