Juliana Notari’s 33 metre-high artwork questions the ‘problematisation of gender’, and has sparked anger among the country’s far-right
Residents living near the Usina de Arte sculpture park in northeast Brazil woke up on New Year’s Eve to a blood red surprise: a 33 metre-high vulva, erected proudly on a hillside.
The enormous sculpture, titled “Diva”, was installed by artist Juliana Notari, with the intention of questioning the “problematisation of gender”. Its arrival came just one day after the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, said that he would never legalise abortion in Brazil.
Writing on Facebook, Notari said of the artwork: “In ‘Diva’, I use art to dialogue with questions that refer to the problematisation of gender from a female perspective, combined with a worldview that questions the relationship between nature and culture in our Western phallocentric and anthropocentric society.”
Addressing Bolsonaro’s recent comments, Notari said “these issues are now becoming increasingly urgent”, adding that “it will be through changing the perspective of our relationship between humans, and between human and non-human, that will allow us to live longer on this planet and in a less unequal and catastrophic society”.
The sculpture has, unsurprisingly, upset Brazil’s Bolsonaro-supporting far-right, many of whom expressed their dismay under Notari’s Facebook post. “Who do you lefties think you’re fooling?” wrote one. “Apart from useful idiots on the left, of course.” Others called the artwork “leftist propaganda”, “horrifying”, and a “disgusting eyesore”.
Brazilian philosopher and polemicist Olavo de Carvalho tweeted a particularly heinous comment, writing: “Why are they talking bad about the 33-metre pussy instead of facing it with a dick?”
Notari revealed that the sculpture took 11 months and “a lot of persistence, coexistence, and learning” to create. “It was over 40 hands to make ‘Diva’ rise,” she continued, “over 20 men working in a heroic effort under the sun to pin, amid a lot of music and jokes.”
I love everything about Juliana Notari’s sculpture ‘Diva’ and this story. It’s speaks to the absolute misogyny and fragility of the global far-right and all extremists obsessed with curtailing women’s human, political, sexual and economic rights. https://t.co/ROepZBeABD— Shaista Aziz (@shaistaAziz) January 3, 2021
Many have praised the work, calling it “beautiful”, “spectacular”, and “impacting”. London’s Vagina Museum said: “We adore Juliana Notari’s ‘Diva’ sculpture, and send her solidarity and love for all the hate she’s received from the far right.”
One Twitter user, Amelie Eckersley, said: “This piece is a fantastic rebellion against a government that not only denigrates women, but also artists, and I love that it is not connected to gender. It is of the earth, it is nature, it is public, and it is free.”
Shaista Aziz, the head of media and communications at Solace Women’s Aid, said: “I love everything about Juliana Notari’s sculpture, ‘Diva’, and this story. It speaks to the absolute misogyny and fragility of the global far-right and all the extremists obsessed with curtailing women’s human, political, sexual, and economic rights.”
Read Juliana Notari’s full Facebook post here, and see photos of “Diva” in the gallery above.