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COVER UP: Dubai David unexposed at Expo

A giant 3D printed replica of Michelangelo’s famous David statue has sparked controversy after organisers chose to cover up the statue’s genitalia to avoid offending viewers. The replica of what is arguably the world’s most recognisable nude was to be on display at the event’s Italian pavilion, but after much deliberation event organisers inexplicably decided the 17-foot statue was best viewed positioned in a column with stone slabs covering much of it – especially the dangly bits.

Public nudity is not permitted in the United Arab Emirates, and the first unveiling of the statue to Emirati VIPs caused “enormous embarrassment,” according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Italian artists and art critics have roundly criticized and protested the decision to shroud the Davis replica with the stone slabs

Sculpted by Michelangelo in 1504, the original statue of David was initially installed in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence before being moved to the Florence Academy of Fine Arts in 1873.

It is one of the most recognisable artworks in the world, and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Italy.

The version of David at the Dubai Expo is a replica of the original produced with laser scans and 3D printing technology. It is made of resin brushed with marble dust to represent the aesthetic of the original sculpture.

However, while the original David stands proudly for all to see, Dubai David is shrouded in a cylindrical chamber made of glass and stone columns which prevents audiences from viewing all he has to offer.

David as seen in Dubai

The Dubai Expo 2020 – originally set to take place last year but postponed due to the pandemic – aims to showcase examples of innovation and culture from countries around the world. UAE authorities hope it will attract more investment and tourism to the region

Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi labelled the event organisers’ cover-up of David as “grotesque and ridiculous.”

Davide Rampello, the director responsible for the displays at the Italian pavilion at the Dubai Expo, defended the decision as a “unique approach” and denied it was a question of government censorship.

“It is a different perspective, which is new, introspective and moving,” said Rampello adding that visitors who enter from the ground floor level will still be able to see the statue in its entirety. Event organisers however, said the lower level will only be accessible to VIPs – presumably those immune to distress at the sight of male genitalia.

An Italian who worked on the project told La Repubblica, “We even thought of putting undergarments on the statue, or changing it all together, but it was too late.”

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First published at Travel Industry Today

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