A perfect replica of Michelangelo’s David was created for the Italian Pavilion, but the 17ft statue’s intimate area has been covered.
Displayed in a glass case with strategically placed columns, the figure will only be visible from the shoulders up for visitors on the upper floor of the pavilion.
Only those with access to the lower floor – limited to VIPs and diplomats – will get a look at the famed statue’s lower half.
“When the statue was uncovered and seen by the Emiratis, there was enormous embarrassment,” an Italian source in the UAE told La Repubblica.
“We even considered putting underpants on him or changing statue but it was too late.
“We understood late it was a mistake bringing a statue of a nude man to the UAE.”
The Italian Commissioner’s Office for Expo 2020 Dubai has strongly refuted the claims.
They said in a statement: “An article published on 2 October by an Italian paper maintained that there was a form of censorship of the so-called “David 3-D Twin” due to the way it was displayed over the two floors of the Italian Pavilion. That story alleged that this was aimed at hiding parts of the body.
“In a statement shared with Italian media, as well as in a number of interviews, our Artistic DIrector Davide Rampello fully countered such comments, denying that any form of censorship has ever been imposed and explaining that the display of the 6-meter-tall reproduction of Michelangelo’s masterpiece was functional to allow visitors looking at the statue from the first floor of the Pavilion to see the David at eye level.
“That, Rampello explained, is a totally different and more introspective perspective than the one tourists in Florence are used to enjoying when visiting the original of the statue at the Galleria dell'Accademia museum.”
“When it comes to UAE culture, we are still conservative and we do look at nudity as something which shouldn’t be displayed but in practice, when it comes to art, I feel people are opening up to it,” one Emirati tour guide said, while British expat Susan Hall said it “looked ridiculous” but that “we can’t be surprised.”
“These sorts of sculptures are not the norm here and I guess we are seeing things change one small step at a time,” she added.
The replica statue was made of resin using a 3D printer before being coated in marble dust.
It’s not the first time a piece of art has raised eyebrows in a conservative country.
In 2018, a marine sculpture by artist Jason deCaires Taylor was demolished by authorities in the Maldives after a court ruled that the human forms depicted in the work were anti-Islamic.
The depiction of human figures in art is discouraged under Islamic law, as they might be seen as “budhus”, or idols, the worship of which is a sin.
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