A feminist street artist has veered from her usual topic of giant vaginas, instead stunning New York City’s Lower East side with a 40-foot tall penis graffiti on an apartment building.
Swedish street artist Carolina Falkholt chose the side of 303 Broome St. as the canvas for her four-story phallic masterpiece. Her previous work has featured in multiple museum exhibitions, most recently in Wanas Konst, Gothenburg Museum of Art, and Eskilstuna Art Museum. Falkholt says she wants to challenge gender stereotypes and sexual taboos.
“I have never heard so much laughter and seen so many happy faces behind my back when painting as for today doing this wall on Broome Street,” Falkholt wrote on Instagram.
Falkholt is infamous for highly graphic depictions of human genitalia, plastering a massive vulva onto a building in Sweden in 2015 and, more recently painting another, more abstract depiction of a vulva on 56 Pike Street, near to this latest Christmas Eve penis mural.
Reaction to the work has been mixed, with local residents up in arms in an online residents group, complaining about the excessive vulgarity, especially for a residential neighborhood.
“It’s ugly,” said neighbor Qun Chen, 47, as cited by The New York Post.“There’s a lot of kids that live in this building and in the neighborhood — it’s not good for the kids, they’re little.”
“It’s not offensive — it’s 2017,” said Felton Chen, 30, no relation. “It doesn’t bother me.”
The piece was commissioned by The New Allen Foundation, run by a local Peruvian restaurant named Baby Brassa. “Created by Franco Noriega and Milan Kelez… [the] art foundation unites a collective of graffiti artists and muralist that are transforming Allen Street into the city’s premiere street art gallery,” the collective’s website reads.
The building’s superintendent, Jason Estrada told NBC that "no one knew" ahead of time about the highly graphic glans. "It's art, man. At the end of the day, it's freedom of expression. I'm into street art, and I like it. It doesn't bother me," he said, as cited by NBC New York.
"Talking about these subjects in public space is a must for a healthy, nonviolent community/world," Falkholt said as cited by NBC New York. "And the dialogue created around feminist public art pieces raises awareness."
"Art is one of the only places left where we can truly be free and discuss whatever difficult topics there are, since art has the ability to translate and transform language in any direction possible," she added.
The piece took Falkholt six hours to complete while the contractors hired to remove it told NBC they expect it will take a whole day for them to paint over the controversial artwork.
"To paraphrase Judith Bernstein, if a d*** can go into a woman, it can go up on a wall. Many of my murals, including these, are about not feeling ashamed of your body and who you are as a sexual being,” Falkholt told The Independent.
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