One of the world's most famous historical buildings was set on fire on Thursday—but fortunately not literally.
Danish artist Thyra Hilden and Argentinean Pio Diaz lit Rome's Colosseum on virtual fire in a dramatic art show aimed at stimulating debate on the fragility of Europe's cultural heritage.
Denmark-based Hilden and Diaz brought their 'City on Fire' project to the Italian capital following several years of preparation, and after virtually burning several other monuments and buildings across Europe.
By virtually setting cultural symbols on fire with video projections, they seek to encourage dialogue and awareness about European heritage sites, and highlight the fragility of some of the continent's oldest monuments.
[Pio Diaz, Argentinean Artist]:
"We wanted something to symbolise destruction and creation at once and interpretation, I mean misinterpretation, also we wanted to question whether something should exist or not and what the heritage means to us."
Creating flames inside the historical building was very demanding, but Hilden explained that they didn't allow the technicalities to distract them from the main purpose of the installation.
[Thyra Hilden, Danish Artist]:
"As far as I know, it's half a kilometre just to walk around the building, so to set it on fire was a really, really huge effort but to us all the technical things are not important, we want to focus on the content and the expression and why we want to do it."
Curator Gianni Mercurio said the theme of the installation was fitting for the aged landmark.
[Gianni Mercurio, Curator]:
"Since the 900s, fire has been for artists a symbol of purification and regeneration and I think 'Colosseum on Fire' is just that, a little bit like the Arabic story of the phoenix. Inside the Colosseum, this great symbol of history, the fire burns the ills of the society to allow a new beginning."
The videos of raging fire were projected from inside the 70 A.D. Roman amphitheatre for 3 nights.