UnNews:Arboretum's nude statue: some accept, others reject

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10 June 2012

AcceptReject

The black rectangle has been added in deference to UnNews readers' modesty

OVERLAND PARK, KS – “We came to the arboretum to see plants, not boobs,” outraged mom Joanne Hughes complained. “My son Alex expected to see a Venus flytrap and a stinkhorn phallus [a type of mushroom], not a woman's knockers!” The disgruntled mother told the mayor, the city council, and anyone else who would listen to her, “I got more than I bargained for, and Alex got an eyeful!”

Other adults, mostly women feminists, have also complained about the nude sculpture, Accept or Reject, by Chinese artist Yu Chang. “It's disgraceful,” National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O'Neill told Unnews' reporter Lotta Lies. “It perpetuates the sexist notion that women are nothing more than tits and ass.”

Chang disagreed: “My sculpture no show no—how you say?--ass.”

The statue is surrealistic, although it does include anatomically correct features of the female body, critics said. “Although the figure holds what appears to be a camera aloft, as if taking a photograph, she has no head. Her blue shirt is unbuttoned and tied beneath her exposed breasts. She has no stomach tummy, no pudendum, and no feet. In addition, one thigh is severed and rests atop its knee, while the calf of the other leg is cut in two, the upper portion resting upon the lower portion. The sculpture suggests that the sculptor has a problem with women.”

“From a Freudian point of view,” Overland Park's communication director, Sean Reilly, contended, “the figure suggests that the artist hates women. It is more than an aggressive image; it is sadistic.”

Eleven other Chinese sculptors also contributed statues. The sculptures are placed at various locations along the park's wooded walking paths. All of them feature nudity, but “none quite as brazen as Chang's,” Reilly said. The presence of the statues has increased park attendance, mostly by adult males, by 30 percent.

Instead of having the offending statue covered or “carted off to oblivion,” as Hughes had asked, the town's officials have posted two signs at the entrance to the trail down which Chang's statue stands: “Some pieces include a display of the human body,” one sign reads. “Parental guidance is encouraged.” The other sign bears a quotation from Dante's Inferno: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!”

The signs have also boosted attendance, especially among horny middle-aged men.

Unappeased, Hughes is petitioning to have the arboretum cited for child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and obscenity. Legal experts characterize the issue as one that pits public indecency against freedom of speech. However, Hughes sees the issue as one of protecting her children and others from “political perverts.”

The fact that the headless sculpture is photographing her own breasts is intended, Hughes said, to represent “sexting,” a practice that “too many children engage in and a practice that police have equated with child pornography.”

Chang says, “No, it is--how you say?--digital dehumanization and the fragmentation of the self.”

“Whatever it's about,” one of the middle-aged admirers of the statue confessed, “I like it.”

Hughes also has trouble understanding what such a statue is doing in the arboretum in the first place. “It's not as if it's a satyr frolicking with maenads,” she pointed out, “or a mermaid seducing Odysseus or Leda being penetrated by Zeus in the form of a swan or Ganymede servicing—I mean, serving—the gods.”

“She seem know much about art,” Chang observed of Hughes' allusions to ancient Greek sculptures, “of the—how do you say it?--erotic kind?”

Asked what she enjoys in the arboretum, besides the trees, flowers, and shrubs, Hughes said, “I like the little birdhouses.”

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