In the middle of the discontent and one of the most sad and surreal returns to normal, a penis appears in Venice. It emerges at morning, like a masked hero in the city of masks. A symbol for all those who have felt like heroes in turn, by bravely adhering to the provisions of the government and their media messengers: with the sole purpose of defeating evil and saving humanity. Of course, since the artist, through a statement released to Dire agency, claims that “the penis is a symbol of life, tells that Venice is alive and needs to live, and provokes by inviting people to be ‘Hard’, not to give up and get back on one’s feet.”
According to the video surveillance system, the artist would have arrived with his marble work of about a meter high resting on a cart. As soon as he left it in front of the Doge’s Palace, he would have immediately fled. The exposure lasted a few minutes, then the local police arrived and first darkened the penis with a cardboard panel and then removed it. The facemask, in marble too and fixed with metal cables, represents “the restrictions we’re facing, of social distancing and of the fear of other people, which is in fact the fear of living. We are all wearing a mask and we are wary of eachother, we don’t ask ourselves what others are doing, we’re ignoring their actions,” said the anonymous artist.
The pen writings on the penis denounce instead the “commodification of the city”: “Phase 3” and “Prostituted” are about the excessive exploitation of Venice as a tourist trap. The artist hopes things won’t go back to “normal” and that the Phase 3, the new normality, will be more respectful of the city and of its citizens. “The Sentence” is a reference to the spot where the penis was put. Back in the days of the Venetian Republic, prisoners stood there waiting for their sentence, read by the Doge on the balcony of the Doge’s Palace. And how many of those prisoners have felt like heroes, or maybe they really have been?
The installation is called #ciapaipaebae, which should be Venetian for “grabbed by the balls”, a clear message against how the Coronavirus has been handled and, likely, how Venice has been treated even before that.