re-imagining sexual organs

Now one of the great things about Venice is the ubiquity of the young but their presence at contemporary-art events can be, um, complicating. Last season, I saw a girl of, I don’t know 15, 16, thereabouts, at a day sale in Christie’s, New York, when the object on sale was a Mike Kelley which depicted ... well, let’s just say two men being explicit with a donkey.

The girl affected indifference, none too well.

...

Jacques Charlier, the artist, was alongside on a boat. His project had been accepted by the Ministry of Culture and Broadcasting of the French-speaking Community of Belgium, but chucked by the Venetians. He had planned to exhibit 100 “portraits” of artists, made by re-imagining their sexual organs.

Charlier said the Venetians had been nervous of affronting the artists. I looked over the images. The Jeff Koons was a pink balloon phallus, the Damien Hirst was salami-sliced and in a vitrine. The images were cute rather than radical and I couldn’t imagine any artist being bothered for one nanosecond. But such scandals of course usually benefit the outraged artist rather than the deeply offended community.

- Anthony Haden-Guest's Biennale Favorites