Time to Celibate?

The Louvre just pulled out on these humping buildings

Architecture Art International News
"Domestikator," 2015 (Courtesy Atelier Van Lieshout)

The Louvre has put the kibosh on a controversial sex sculpture that was set to go up in its next-door neighbors’ garden.

The Domestikator is an architectural sculpture created by Dutch collective Atelier Van Lieshout in 2015, depicting two red humaniform buildings engaging in what can only be described here as a lewd act. The sculpture was scheduled to be exhibited in Paris’ Tuileries Gardens as a public-facing element of the FIAC contemporary art fair in October, but has just been withdrawn after protest from the Louvre, the gardens’ neighboring institution.

Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre’s acting director, sent a letter of explanation to Le Monde in which he wrote that the work “risks being misunderstood by visitors to the garden.” Seeing as the sculpture would have been located near a playground and within direct eyesight of the museum’s patrons, it is altogether easy to imagine the board meeting leading to this decision. It may seem even less surprising after a much more vitriolic response quashed the installation of a giant Paul McCarthy sculpture (resembling what can only be described here as a “hidden accessory”) as it rose in one of Paris’ central plazas. With AN‘s steadfast commitment to a neutral tone, we will not (at this time) take a firm stance on the controversy beyond noting that Domestikator is painted a very nice red, employs massing creatively, and we wish we were writing this under the light of its tower room window.

Atelier Van Lieshout has offered its own take on the sculpture in slightly more subtle terms than might be expected: “The act of domestication … often leads to boundaries being sought or even crossed. It is this difficult balance that Atelier Van Lieshout seeks to address.” The description on its website makes a slightly bolder statement: “It symbolizes the power of humanity over the world and pays tribute to the ingenuity, the sophistication and the capacities of humanity, to the power of organisation, and to the use of this power to dominate the natural environment.” In this context, the roles occupied by the buildings take on a bit of a different light … definitely involving a tad more subordination.

The collective’s founder, Joep Van Lieshout, originally planned to live within Domestikator for the duration of the festival, creating “a series of objects in collaboration with invited artists.” AN‘s imagination is running wild with exactly what those objects might have been. After the festival’s planner’s attempted to find alternate locations for the structure and failed, it appears the installation has been entirely dropped from the program. The sculpture is being de-installed today from the RuhrTriennale (an arts festival) in Bochum, Germany.

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