RIO DE JANEIRO – A giant sculpture of a vagina on a hill in northeastern Brazil has fueled an ongoing culture war between left and conservatives – including close allies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Juliana Notari’s lively 33-meter concrete and resin sculpture, dubbed “Diva”, is located on the site of a former sugar mill that has been converted into an open-air museum in the state of Pernambuco.
Notari unveiled the installation last week, saying it shows both a vagina and a wound that calls into question the relationship between nature and culture in a “phallocentric and anthropocentric society”.
“These problems have become more and more urgent today,” she wrote on her Facebook page, accompanied by a series of photos of the huge, bright red sculpture, which a team of 20 craftsmen needed 11 months to create.
The artwork sparked a heated debate on social media. More than 25,000 people commented on Notari’s Facebook post – both supporters and critics of the work.
“With all due respect, I didn’t like it. Imagine I’m walking in this park with my young daughters and they ask … Dad, what is it? What will i answer? “Wrote one commentator.
In response, a female poster wrote: “With all due respect, teach your daughters not to be ashamed of their own genitals.”
Bolsonaro’s political guru, Olavo de Carvalho, took to Twitter to lambast Notari’s work – and apparently proposed a giant penis sculpture to challenge her.
His comments attracted nearly 700 retweets, many of which were laden with outspoken criticism of leftists.
Bolsonaro has long criticized art he considers leftist, and in 2019 he unsuccessfully tried to freeze funding for LGBT +-themed films.
Months later, his cultural secretary was fired after he published a video in which he appeared to be copying a speech by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.