Carolina Falkholt painting appeared on Manhattan apartment block on Christmas Eve but buildings director has ordered it to be removed
A four-storey painting of a penis that piqued the curiosity of New Yorkers when it appeared on Christmas Eve was being painted over on Wednesday- by order of the building’s landlord.
The painting, on an apartment building on Broome Street in the Lower East Side, was commissioned by a local street art foundation and made by a Swedish artist, Carolina Falkholt, as a companion to a similarly vast if more abstract vagina, further east on Pike Street.
Falkholt told the Guardian her project was often about” not feeling ashamed of your body and who you are as a sexual being “.
” I typically paint giant vaginas, pussies and cunts ,” she said,” and since I had just finished one on the side of a five-storey house, I felt like a dick was required. The wall space on Broome was a perfect fit for it. To rephrase[ the artist] Judith Bernstein, if a dick can go into a woman, it can go up on a wall .”
On Broome Street on Wednesday afternoon, sentiments were mixed. A laundry owned in the mainly Chinese neighbourhood, who declined to offer his epithet, said the image had constructed occupants uncomfortable.
” We don’t like it, and we hope they take it down ,” he said.
Avery Plewis, who was visiting from Toronto, wondered if the paint constituted a kind of visual sexual harassment.” It’s weird, because it’s so phallic that it’s beyond sexual harassment ,” she said.” Harassment is often secretive but this is totally in-your-face .”
For others, the phallus furnished delight on a bitterly cold day. Some noted the neighbourhood’s long association with street art and graffiti, including work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Richard Hambleton.
” The colorings make it very artistic ,” said Lauren Deutsch, from Los Angeles.” I’d laugh about it but I wouldn’t crave it myself. We don’t see anything like that in LA .”
Three entrances down, at Spring Studio, George Petridis was leaving a describing class where he had been studying Leonardo Da Vinci and anatomy.
” Strolling out and seeing this is a massive contrast ,” he said.” That’s what some people think of as art right now. It doesn’t offend me, but it doesn’t bother me either, and I’m not going to spend a lot of hour thinking about it .”
It turned out he would not need to. An NYC building inspector who had been called out to photograph the image and who did not wish to give their name said ” after my superiors look at this, it might be out of our hands. It’s a decision for higher-ups .”
But Katie Grinero, a build administrator elsewhere in the city, indicated the likely fate of the paint when she said she considered the image to constitute property damage.
” Imagine if someone threw that on your house without permission ,” she said.” I wouldn’t like that. You can[ have] it in your own studio, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for the streets with all the children. It doesn’t teach anything .”
According to the Low-Down NY, the blog that first reported on the installing, community leaders called for the paint to be removed as soon as it was finished.
Naomi Pena, different districts 1 community education council chairperson, reportedly wrote to Baby Brasa, a Peruvian restaurant that runs street artwork foundation The New Allen, which commissioned the study, calling for the painting to be removed. Contractors were soon called in.
In her exchange with the Guardian, Falkholt was philosophical.
“Art,” she said,” is one of the only places left where we can truly be free and discuss whatever difficult topics there are, since artwork are competent to translate and transform language in any direction possible .”