The Lower East Side of Manhattan woke up to a gigantic, hot pink, phallic makeover on Christmas morning, and it’s been the talk of the town ever since. But this particular erection—like so many others in the world—was short-lived.
Over the holiday weekend, Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt painted the giant penis on the side of a building on Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge streets, for the local street art foundation The New Allen. The four-story pink penis is the companion to an abstract vagina further down Pike Street.
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NO TIME 4 BALL$$ . . . 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 . . . #metoo #dick #pussypower #gender #genitalia #sexuality #thenewallen #cock #love #art #spraypaint #gay #flesh #blood #queer #socialsculpture #pussy #notsurprised #muralarts #genderfluid #pride #bipolar #anxiety #sex #fuck #hardwork #spraypaint #trigger #iscplife #merrychristmas @montanacans @montanacans_usa @newallen_ny #happyholidays @iscp_nyc
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With my Pussy vision I️ see through your talk. . The wall is finalized!! I am so happy!!! 56 Pike Street by the LES skate park. 7 days of monumental vagina painting in New York. . . . #pussypower #thenewallen @montanacans @montanacans_usa #thevaginationtour @newallen_ny #vagina #dick #snatch #cock #twat #penis #cunt #slit #work #hard #fuck #genitalia #streetart #graffitiart #metoo #notsurprised #sexualawareness #genderfluid #nonbinary #pride @iscp_nyc
Falkholt combines different mediums of art to create her own version of street graffiti, to challenge old ideas of gender stereotypes and the use of the female body, according to her biography on the International Studio and Curatorial Program website. She told the Guardian that the artwork in the Lower East Side was intended to celebrate women, their bodies, and not feeling ashamed of being a sexual being.
“I usually paint giant vaginas, pussies and cunts,” she said, “and since I had just finished one on the side of a five-story building, I felt like a dick was needed. The wall space on Broome was a perfect fit for it. To paraphrase [the artist] Judith Bernstein, if a dick can go into a woman, it can go up on a wall.”
But residents in the neighborhood—including the building’s owner, who had not been asked permission—were not celebrating when they spied the towering pink penis on Monday, and the installation was painted Wednesday, according to local paper the Get Down.
Here’s how one longtime Lower East Side resident, Naomi Pena, felt about the painting:
“While I happen to love and appreciate street art, your latest commissioned display is the most disgusting display of art I’ve seen. Contrary to what developers and the folks you see in the street, there are thousands of people in this neighborhood who are raising their children here. While I’m gathering you may not have any children or may not live here to have to walk by and see this, i certainly was not happy to have to explain to my 8-year-old twins what this was. I would hope your organization would at least provide some basic protocols for your artists when producing art… or at the very least implore them not to produce something that would piss off parents like your organization just did!”
While some of Pena’s complaints seem laughable—like, really, you’re afraid to tell your kids about dicks?—she raises some valid complaints about gentrification and the dangers of bringing in strangers to create art in what seems to be a close-knit community. Others would point out, however, that thought-provoking street art traditionally found a home on the Lower East Side.
Arousing curiosity, laughter, and anger on Broome St. in Lower East Side. Giant mural of a penis, now being covered up by city after some residents were disgusted. Artist Carolina Falkholt says her feminist public art pieces are meant to raise awareness. “No more bodyshaming.” pic.twitter.com/OqrUZMsUau— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) December 27, 2017
It’s a shame. As this was one of the most flattering portrayals of Mayor Bill de Blasio that I’ve ever seen. https://t.co/43d03bj4HN— David Brotsky (@davidbrotsky) December 28, 2017
Falkholt told Hyperallergic that she’d hoped the mural started a dialogue that would raise awareness about the dangers of body shaming.
“Talking about these subjects in public space is a must for a healthy, nonviolent community/world,” she said. “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.”
Well, the pink dick definitely got a dialogue started among residents.