featured gallery for February 2006

Nineteen Penises

The names spread across many cultures: Wang, Dong, Schlong, Dick, Peter, Willie, Johnson or Rod. Some names have punch, like Schmuck, Prick, Pecker and Cock. Others bust out with spicy associations, like Wiener Schnitzel, Pink Torpedo, Bald Monkey or Weeping Jesus. We will never finish the task of renaming the penis, because we can never finish the task of understanding it.
From the possessor's point of view the penis is a double agent, both one's own and separate, private and public, a tool and independent agent. It can be a source of embarrassment or pride, vulnerability or power. A penis is the little part that preoccupies; its incessant reproportioning attracts disproportionate attention. It is a shape-shifting troublemaker.

Artists and non-artists alike have been depicting the penis for much of recorded time, in spite of the confusing and sometimes ferocious prohibition against its representation. This selection of artworks from the Frank Moore Archive Project charts a circuitous itinerary through the vast continent of penis. Some of the members included here have been fashioned by hand, others are documented photographically, and all were emphatically made to be looked at. Whether the artist's purpose was to arouse, protest, explain or provoke, each work testifies to an irrepressible desire to look at what we've been told over and over should not be seen in public.