Students from Imperial College London have protested against the installation of a statue by sculptor Anthony Gromley on campus, accusing the six-meter-high work of its “phallic” character.
Composed of an assembly of steel rectangles, the work, entitled “Alert”, is supposed to represent a crouching human form and evoke the scientific community. It is due to be installed this summer, according to the Imperial College website.
But rather than bent legs, "many" see a three-meter-long "phallus" instead, says a motion from the student union of the prestigious scientific establishment.
They believe that the students should have been consulted, and point out that the name "Alert" can "also be understood as referring to the erect phallus of the statue".
“There is nothing wrong with phallic imagery in art,” admits the motion, considering nonetheless that “phallic interpretation” could be considered “inappropriate for public display.”
The text underlines the risk of inherent exclusion linked to the phallic interpretation of the work, when only 41.8% of the establishment's full-time students were women during the year 2020-2021.
According to the Guardian, a spokesperson for Imperial College argued that "Antony Gromley is one of the world's greatest living artists and we are grateful to be offered one of his iconic sculptures". The work was donated to the establishment by one of the former students of Imperial College.