Q: An artist has etched male genitals on the footpath near my home. Every day as I pass, my eyes are lured to it. Is this art? Is this freedom of expression? Or is this just a sub-standard doodle of a doodle – and should I ask the council to remove it?
K.V., Glen Waverley, Vic
A: About 1000 years ago, an anonymous artist sculpted an image of people having sex on to the side of the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in India – actually, hundreds of images were sculpted, so this artist must have worked really fast, or brought a couple of friends to help with the intricate crotch chiselling.
Today this temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it might never have become a globally treasured monument of Indian art if a local villager had complained to the council, writing: “Dear Sir/Madam, I wish to inform you of offensive graffiti etched onto the new neighbourhood temple. Please remove these obscenities ASAP! Yours sincerely, Irate Village Ratepayer.”
So maybe in 1000 years’ time this footpath doodle will have become an equally treasured public masterpiece, just like a Banksy or Keith Haring. Tourists may visit from across the galaxy, with tour guides leading them around, saying, “So over here, we have a magnificent example of primitive erotic footpath art … the Doodle Doodle. And just further up, you can see the infamous Doggy Pawprints. And to the left, the immortal Jordan HEARTS Mel 2019.”
I say, leave that doodle alone: let future humans delight in its beauty and mystique. But if it’s truly bothering you, just sneak out late at night with a chisel and transform those genitals into a cute little face. Maybe future archaeologists will say, “Wow, 21st-century humans were a weird-looking bunch. Such long noses! And huge bobbly eyes!”
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