I was tickled pink to hear about a Russian protest that took the form of a giant penis painted on a drawbridge. Then I had to ask myself: What makes it art, rather than just juvenile graffiti? Is it all in who paints it? The intent? Does it all come down to size? (Just kidding about that last one.) I found the question intriguing, so I looked more deeply (hyuk, hyuk) into this fab phallic statement.
Bottom line: I can't quite make the connection between the protesters' objections and the mega-erection (213 feet tall, 89 feet wide!), but it got me to look more deeply and think about its meaning. So yeah, I guess it's art.
And now on to ... why?
A big meeting called the International Economic Forum was held, starting June 17, in St. Petersburg. The government is invoking strict security measures in anticipation, which seems to have mightily pissed off a group called Voina, or War. To let the government know they found the security measures to be extreme and invasive, this group erected their penis protest.
It took 40 collaborators to paint the bridge, and the victory was fleeting; though the bridge rose and lowered several times throughout the night and could be seen throughout St. Petersburg, and pointed directly at the agency it was protesting, it was washed away by fire hoses the next morning.
Voina is known for X-rated protest stunts that double as public art. In 2008, given a room in an exhibition where they could do whatever they wanted, they posted a huge photo of group sex with a slogan insulting the president of Russia. This caused a bit of a ruckus.
In the end, the purpose of art is to challenge the viewer in some way. Especially contemporary and protest art. Sure, Voina could have drawn a giant flower, but then I wouldn't be writing about it here. They got attention, so they did their job -- art or no art.
What do you think? Is it art, graffiti, or something in between? Can a picture of a penis ever be art? Tell us in the comments!
Image via Jalopnik