Emiliano Coletta, an artist and visual arts professor at the university, said that he and Mr. Longo had gone to meet with the animal rights protesters, to have “a civil dialogue.”
“I can understand that not everyone can like the work, but frankly, it bothered me that it came down to speaking about porchetta. We’re a fine arts academy after all,” he said.
His colleague, the artist Davide Dormino, who teaches sculpture, said that critics had missed the message of conviviality the statue conveyed. Porchetta was a street food, “it unites people. Had it been real, we would have been cutting slices and eating it,” he said.
But public art is always a gamble, he said, and “artists have to know that public space belongs to everyone and that people have the right to express opinions.”
Simone Pizzani, a waiter at a restaurant on the same square as the statue, said the work was rather gloomy. “Maybe it would have been more fun had the pig been standing, smiling, holding a sandwich in his hand,” he suggested.
Mr. Longo said he was happy to have gotten the opportunity to show his work in public and that criticism was part of the game. “There are going to be people who like it and others who don’t,” he said.
But the escalation in personal attacks has reached the point where he is now afraid for his safety. Vandalizing his artwork was a violent reaction, he said on Friday.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “People continue not to understand the work, especially people who don’t want to understand this work, they have their ideals and they continue to have them. Unfortunately, I am no one. I am not going to be the person who changes their minds.”