A 3D-printed replica of Michelangelo’s David at the Dubai Expo has been mired in controversy after organisers blocked views of his buttocks and manhood to respect Muslim culture.
According to the Italian daily La Repubblica, Expo staff agonised over how they could display the 17-foot-tall replica of the Renaissance masterpiece without offending conservative Muslims.
They eventually decided to place the statue within an octagonal glass gallery spanning two floors, one level with the warrior’s muscular legs and another with his eyes.
A large stone slab placed between the two floors means no visitor faces the embarrassment of staring directly at the statue’s penis, while wide ledges on the top floor – open to public visitors – make it impossible to lean over and peer downwards.
The nude pubic area can be seen only by standing close to the glass and looking upwards from the lower floor, which is open only to authorities and functionaries, according to Italian media reports.
Public nudity is outlawed in the United Arab Emirates.
The country hopes the six-month Expo event will boost investment and help its tourism industry recover from the Covid pandemic. “We even thought of putting undergarments on the statue, or changing it altogether, but it was too late,” a source who worked on the project told La Repubblica. “We understood too late that it was an error to bring a statue of a nude man to the Emirates.”
Originally sculpted by Michelangelo in 1504, the work depicts David tense and ready for battle after deciding to fight Goliath.
Vittorio Sgarbi, outspoken Italian art critic, called the Italian pavilion’s decision “grotesque and ridiculous”.
Davide Rampello, pavilion art director, released a statement on Saturday denying any government censorship and defending the display.
He said it was a unique conceptual approach in which the David sculpture would greet visitors with his gaze directly at eye level. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd)
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