Art gallery defends trans statue after conservative outrage

Buck Angel sculpture Buck with Cigar in the Art Gallery of SA
Image: Facebook

The Art Gallery of South Australia has said it will not move two sculptures targeted by a One Nation MP and conservative Christians who claim the art is “perverse” and “highly offensive”.

One Nation MLC Sarah Game started the petition over the two sculptures currently displayed at the Art Gallery of SA. She wants the gallery to move the allegedly “inappropriate” art to an “adults-only” area.

One of the artworks is a life-size bronze sculpture of transgender man Buck Angel, a US sex educator and retired porn actor. The work is titled Buck with Cigar created by British artist Marc Quinn.

The gallery has displayed Buck with Cigar since 2011. Buck himself visited the sculpture in 2014.

The other sculpture is Australian artist Patricia Piccinini’s Big Mother, depicting a humanoid animal breastfeeding a newborn baby.

The sculpture was inspired by the story of a female baboon who, after her own baby died, abducted a human infant.

Big Mother was first displayed in 2010. The sculpture has returned to the gallery floor intermittently several times since then.

One Nation and FamilyVoice Australia want art removed

This week, One Nation MP Sarah Game’s petition called for the sculptures to be pulled from public view.

“I used to love taking my children to the Art Gallery of South Australia,” the conservative MP said.

“But after seeing these photos from a concerned constituent, I won’t be going back anytime soon.

“As a mother of three, I believe parents have the right to safeguard their children’s moral and ethical upbringing.

“If these statues must remain, the gallery should place them in an adult-only area.”

Amusingly, the One Nation politician published photos of both sculptures uncensored on both her Facebook and Instagram pages.


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A post shared by Sarah Game MLC (@sarahgamemlc)

This was highlighted in a withering response to the One Nation MP from parliamentary colleague Frank Pangallo.

“You aren’t serious are you, Sarah?” he wrote.

“Nudes have been part of the art world and artistic expression since the start of civilisation.

“Should galleries, museums and plazas in say Egypt, France, Netherlands, the UK, Spain, Italy, Greece or wherever discreetly cover up ancient and modern masterpieces and statues on public display?

“You’d better send your petition to Florence where a bold and brazen giant-sized version of Michaelangelo’s naked David overlooks the square near the Uffizi Gallery full of nudes.

“As Henri Matisse once wrote: Creativity takes courage.”

FamilyVoice slams ‘perversity’ in the art gallery

Unsurprisingly, conservative group FamilyVoice Australia is also supporting the calls to censor the art.

Spokesperson David d’Lima slammed the “spending of taxpayer dollars on perversity” in the state’s Art Gallery.

“Families with young children should enjoy the freedom to move around the Art Gallery without fear of exposure to highly offensive and perverse statues,” he said.

“We urge the ALP government to demand the Art Gallery clean up its exhibits, if necessary, with the threat of cutting its public funding.”

Art Gallery of SA refuses to move sculptures

However, an Art Gallery of SA spokesperson rejected the calls to move the artworks from public display.

They said the organisation firmly supports artists’ rights and “celebrating diverse cultural expressions”.

“Art at AGSA is curated to spark conversation and debate, and sometimes may be controversial,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s the role of artists and galleries like AGSA to encourage viewers to see the world, culture, and politics from different perspectives.

“AGSA is a proud melting pot of artistic cultural and intellectual views. We acknowledge that art is often the best platform for having challenging conversations.

“AGSA firmly supports the rights of artists. We also believe in preserving and celebrating diverse cultural expressions. [We] would not remove a work from public display.”

The Art Gallery of SA added it already issues sensory, cultural and content warnings “when required”.

“We prepare our visitors including school groups and encourage pre-visits from teachers and educators,” she said.

‘Deeply loved artwork throughout Adelaide’

A supporter of the “deeply moving” artworks later launched a counter-petition, titled “Save Big Mother and Buck,” condemning “outrageous” calls to move them.

“Not only having a powerful moving story, Big Mother is a deeply loved artwork throughout all of Adelaide,” the counter-petition writes.

“She is quite a sight to see and so many people will be heartbroken if she is removed.

Buck represents a trans man and is based on a true story. Many people in the trans community deeply appreciate having an art piece like Buck. It helps them see more trans representation and feel safer among the community.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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