Non, non, non! Louvre rejects sexually explicit Dutch art sculpture

Photo: Atelier van Lieshout

The Louvre museum in Paris has rejected a Dutch sculpture from a public art programme because its sexualised silhouette ‘risks being misunderstood by visitors’.

The sculpture, the ‘Domestikator, which depicts an abstract person apparently having sex with an animal, was made by studio Atelier Van Lieshout, reports the Volkskrant.

It was due to have been displayed in the Tuileries Gardens of the museum from 19th October as part of a four-day programme organised by representatives of the Fiac contemporary art fair.

But although the theme was ‘Hors les Murs’, or outside the walls, the Dutch design proved a step too far for Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez.

He sent a letter to the organisers, reports The Art Newspaper, saying: ‘Online commentaries point out this work has a brutal aspect; it risks being misunderstood by visitors to the gardens.’

The 12-metre high installation would also have been nearby a children’s playground.

Consent

But Joep van Lieshout, founder and artistic director of the Rotterdam-based Atelier Van Lieshout has released a statement protesting the move as a ‘worrying’ limit to the freedom of expression museums should champion.

‘This shows once again that museums are run by lawyers and marketing people rather than passionate museum directors,’ he reportedly added to the Volkskrant.

‘Domestikator is not about sex at all: it is about domestication, and the way human nature manages nature. There’s nothing wrong with that: domestication makes progress possible. At the same time, ethical boundaries are constantly moved during that process.

‘That’s what the work is about, and it is being boycotted in a very cowardly, fearful way.’

The work has previously been displayed in the Ruhrtriennale show in Bochum, Germany, and from the end of March 2018, will be shown in Amsterdam north. The artist added in his statement that children ‘loved’ the installation in its previous location and that it helped spark a dialogue about consent.