January 22, 2011
Morten Traavik Skin-Coloured Machine Gun
Phallic sculpture outside a Maltese airport
The controversial machine gun comprises of as many sexual organs as one could care to image, including buttocks, nipples and a penis-shaped barrel. Although the conservative Norwegians obviously cannot understand the ‘artistic qualities’ of such work, as the museum would not permit the Russian president to see Morten Traaviks’ satirical machine gun, when he recently made a visit to the museum.
Although the political and satirical Norwegian artist’s latest bizarre creation has not been the only ‘phallic’ piece of art to spark debate in 2010. Back in April last year, the mayor of Malta demanded a “phallic” sculpture close to the airport was removed ahead of the Pope’s visit to Malta.
Whilst the likes of the Maltese mayor, officials at the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and the delicate sensibilities of the Russian president, may regard this type of art is “embarrassing” and “vulgar”, there are many who believe art denoting male sexual organs, conveys, like it does in many cultures, fertility and strength.
Defending his infamous “phallic” sculpture outside a Maltese airport, its creator, artist Paul Vella Critien referred to his critics as “uneducated” and “ignorant”, asserting that the sculpture was a modern representation of a symbol dating back to ancient Egypt.
Since the rise of Sigmund Freud’s ‘phallic stage’ theory in the 20th century, the ‘phallis’ took on a new set of art-related interpretations. Whatever an individual’s stance on controversial genital art, it has to be said, there is something domineering, striking and majestic, about pieces of art that adopt a shape resonant of a ‘phallis’. It is perhaps this ‘domineering and majestic’ presence which leaves many men feeling inferior, and as a consequence taking it out on the piece of art.