According to the Italian media, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi once called himself "the dream of Italians." Now, two Italian artists are repurposing this phrase -- Il sogno degli italiani -- as the title of their latest work of art: a wax figure of either a dead or sleeping Berlusconi in a glass case wearing Mickey Mouse slippers with pants unzipped and smiling.
Antonio Garullo and Mario Ottocento's piece is on display in Rome and depicts what they describe as "an effigy of ex-Italian leader in a way that echoes presentation of Christian saints, or leaders that were the subject of personality cults (such as Mao or Lenin), in order to underline the once esteemed place that Berlusconi once had in Italian politics, and his fall from it."
Watch this video showcasing the controversial piece:
In early 2011, Berlusconi became the spotlight of a sex scandal that involved paying a 17-year-old woman to sleep with him, which under the country's law is a crime punishable by three years in prison if the woman is younger than 18. Along with this charge, Berlusconi was also charged with alleged abuse of office, which carries jail time of up to 12 years.
In light of this history, the Daily Mail has more from the artists on the message of their latest work:
"We put Berlusconi’s body into a glass case to emphasize the personality cult that he has been creating for all these years and which will possibly remain for years to come.
"At the same time we put a screen between the contingent reality and historical judgment.
"If Italians are ultimately ''a people of saints, poets, seafarers'' then the arch-Italian Silvio is a worthy simulacrum of this people."
EuroNews explains further that the artists intend this piece to be a parody of the traditions that preserve saints and "powerful heros like Mao or Lenin."
Berlusconi resigned from his post in November 2011, but it was recently reported he seemed to be vying for position of the country's presidency, which is mostly a ceremonial post. Berlusconi also said he would like to see the Italian presidency modeled on France's, where it holds more powers than the prime minister and can be extended to two terms.
Berlusconi said the role of president is not his ambition, "but there are responsibilities that one cannot avoid."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.