This Vagina-Scent Holy Water Madonna Sculpture Exists Pretty Transparently For The Sake Of Press

File this one under “ Extremely Mixed Feelings”: Olfactory artist Peter de Cupere has a one-day exhibit happening in which a Madonna figure made of holy water and “vaginal smell” will melt and fill the gallery with “the scent of passion.” :-/

The vaginal smell is authentic and sourced from a variety of women, but is hygienic – it was created by an olfactory lab, so no, say, hazardous elements remain in the sculpture. Gallery attendees will be invited to touch the liquid after the sculpture has melted but have been warned that it’s a pretty strong scent and will stick.

The Huffington Post shared de Cupere’s reasoning behind the sculpture:

“Religion has always been an interesting issue in art,” he began. “The reason is simple, because it’s conservative, an old and closed idea and art is the opposite, it’s progressive and open — like a vagina.”

He added that vaginas smell “in general, great, and more men should respect that.” Oooookey dokey.

I don’t really know what to think. To me, this is just another way of painting a woman’s nude body, but doing it through scent. It’s still sexualizing of women, even if it’s appreciative, and the whole religious iconography aspect of the work seems like it’s mostly there for sensationalism. I wonder if he’s the kind of guy who’s “just trying to pay you a compliment, sheesh.” Except through art.

I mean, it’s called “Deflowering.” It features a figure known almost solely for her virginity, and co-opts the actual scent of actual vaginas. He’s not totally consistent on his explanation for the work — is it to appreciate the scent of vaginas? To juxtapose religion and art? (Early 20th-century art critic Julius Meier Graefe, by the way, felt that art was an extension of religion rather than its opposite – just to provide another point of view.) Or is it the other reasons he cites: Is it to discuss women’s treatment in religion? Is it to expose the viewer to the experience of a taboo?

Or maybe is it just that putting pussy smell in a holy water statue of the Virgin Mary is risque and bound to get you some press? If so, it seems exploitative of female sexuality rather than appreciative.

Forgive me, I’m just a blogger and I don’t know the ways of the art world, but it seems like art works are less transparently for shock value when they’re created with a clear purpose in mind from the get-go. Color me unimpressed. [Huffington Post]

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