Artist Kristin Ivey's latest exhibit is sadly being censored by Calgary's Eau Claire Market. The exhibit, entitled "The Phallus Series", is currently showing at The New Gallery at Eau Claire Market and consists of colorful re-purposed prom dresses shaped into penises. Just before the shows opening, Eau Claire Market decided that a curtain should be installed to block view of the sculptures from the public following a string of complaints. According to an article in FFWD magazine, it seems as though the primary concern is that these sculptures will continue be offend passers-by.
The sculptures are not depicting anything unnatural about the human body (...okay, maybe the pretty pastel colors of these 3-footers are a bit unusual, but that's art, right?). Even if they are slightly over-the-top, I don't quite appreciate the underlying motives for blocking the whole thing up.
Considering that galleries have the specific purpose of displaying art (which often deals with controversial themes), the folks at Eau Claire should have thought about the potential controversy that art shows tend to generate before deciding to house a gallery in their space. It's pretty obvious that there are much more disturbing images Calgarians are forced to view whether they want to or not (see: post about Campus Pro Life's Genocide Awareness Project display).
Of course, I wonder: had the artist been male and the sculptures, barely identifiable lace and silk replications of vulvae, would the higher-ups at Eau Claire be stressing censorship of the "male" sexual experience as swiftly and as strictly as they have done in this case? Let's just wait and see what happens when the opportunity arises, since we know it will...
In protest of this blockage, I suggest you support the show and go check it out. It's on now and will run until May 9th, 2009.
See the gallery's website for further details on the exhibit.