Belgian artist Jacques Charlier’s original plan was to disperse 100 posters depicting the symbolic “genitals” of 100 artists throughout Venice. The drawings are visual puns, with one written clue, and viewers are invited to guess to whom the genitals belong. For example, a Stanley knife stands for the Italian artist Lucio Fontana, a minimalist fond of slashing his canvases (the drawing comes with the clue “often used”).
For the man who once wrapped Berlin’s Reichstag, Christo’s image resembles a parcel, and the clue is “wraps in very special things”. Damien Hirst’s member is shown sliced and suspended in a tank of formaldehyde.
Charlier’s proposal was rejected by the Biennale authorities (for fear of offending the Venetian populace, and the artists whose genitals are represented). But Charlier has used this rejection as a stimulus for a massive publicity drive — a boat emblazoned with “100 Sexes D’Artistes” has been touring the canals of Venice, docking occasionally to let the public board to view the correspondence between Charlier, Biennale director Daniel Birnbaum and other authorities (while being served free prosecco, of course).
The French Human Rights League has also come out in support of the artist — claiming he has been censored. But this censorship has not prevented Charlier and his supporters from handing out booklets containing all 100 genital drawings, and offering free T-shirts to those who can guess the identity of at least 20 of the artists.
Charlier’s posters will tour several other European cities, including Antwerp and Belgrade.
— The Age