Dubai Expo features Michelangelo’s David, but not in all his glory
- A statue of Michelangelo’s David is being exhibited in Italy’s pavilion of Dubai Expo 2020
- In the exhibit, the head and neck of the statue are placed at the eye level while the rest of the body goes further down
- Organisers of the pavilion have emphatically denied claims of self-censorship
The Dubai Expo 2020 is one of the biggest events of the calendar this year and as such has a line-up that is becoming of the event. Therefore, the exhibition rightly hosts Michelangelo’s David in its midst. However, the masterpiece sculpture that is regarded by many as a symbol of civil liberties has ended up, rather ironically, in controversy over self-censorship.
In the sculpture exhibited at Italy’s pavilion of the Dubai Expo, the head and neck of the six-meter-tall depiction of the Renaissance statue are showcased in an octagonal structure at the first-floor level. The genitalia and feet, however, have been placed at a lower level and accessible to select visitors.
It was sections of the Italian media that first raised the point about the placing of the David sculpture as an act of self-censorship to hide the statue’s genitalia due to religious and cultural sensitivities in the Gulf Arab state.
However, the organisers of the Italian pavilion have strongly denied the claim. “We planned to position David’s statue the way it is now many, many months ago, commissioner Paolo Gilsenti told Reuters adding that the statue had been brought to the spot in the middle of Ramadan in the presence of several senior officials of the Emirati and Italian government.
According to artistic director Davide Rampello, the David statue has been so placed to offer a “new experience” by allowing visitors to see the David at the eye level, whereas “art lovers have to look up at the original statue at the Galleria dell’Accademia museum in Florence.
Although not everyone is complaining. A French national visiting the Expo told Reuters that she likes it this way. “It’s good like this because we can imagine the rest. We don’t know what we can see further down,” she said, adding: “He’s a beautiful, beautiful man.”