What to Know
- Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt painted a four-story-tall penis on the side of a building in the Lower East Side over the weekend
- The piece has sparked a debate in the community, with some calling for the installation to be painted over while others applauded the work
- At least two community leaders have called on the painting to be taken down
If art is supposed to spark a conversation, the latest installation on the Lower East Side accomplished its mission.
A four-story, realistic pink penis popped up on the side of an apartment building on Broome Street between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets on Christmas eve. And after just two days, the work by Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt has already sparked everything from outrage and calls to have it removed to applause and laughter for the envelope-pushing piece.
Falkholt's own Instagram profile was the site of much of the discussion after the artist posted an image of the giant painting on Sunday.
"I have never heard so much laughter and seen so many happy faces behind my back when painting as for today doing this wall on Broome Street," wrote the graffiti artist.
The post quickly garnered the ire of Instagrammers, with many calling the installation offensive.
"Y’all Wnna come mess up are neighborhood with what you think it’s cool but it’s really not. Can’t wait till it’s removed and it will happen. We don’t play that in the Lower East Side," wrote one user.
Another chimed in, "This is the most disgusting gross display of street art. It’s one thing to have this in your home but to have this in public where families live and walk by is a major lack of respect"
Other users, meanwhile, defended the work -- saying the piece was "a lovely shade of pink" and sparked a conversation.
"The penis, just like the overplayed art rendition of the vagina, has the power to be beautiful. This is beautiful. Great color," wrote one user in support of the art.
In a statement to NBC 4 New York, Falkholt said the mural and another, which shows a more abstract depiction of a vagina on Pike Street, were "about not being ashamed of your body and who you are as a sexual being."
"Talking about these subjects in public space is a must for a healthy, nonviolent community/world," she said. "And the dialogue created around feminist public art pieces raises awareness."
Naomi Peña,President of the Community Education Council for school district 1 and a lifelong Lower East Sider, wrote Baby Brassa -- a Peruvian restaurant nearby that also runs a street art foundation called The New Allen, which commissioned the work -- asking for the penis painting to be removed.
"Contrary to what developers and the folks you see in the street, there are thousands of people in this neighborhood who are raising their children here. While I’m gathering you may not have any children or may not live here to have to walk by and see this, i certainly was not happy to have to explain to my 8-year-old twins what this was," wrote Pena.
In an emailed response provided to NBC 4 New York by Peña, The New Allen said the painting was only scheduled to be there until Jan. 18.
"I am so sorry if our last piece offended you or anybody else in your community," said Franco Noriega, a representative with The New Allen in the email. "As you know we work with several artists and try to bring street art for everyone to enjoy. The last piece is definitely a very strong statement that we discussed with the artist but she had some pretty good points in order to make this piece."
NBC 4 New York has reached out to Baby Brassa and The New Allen seeking comment.
Falkholt is a Swedish artist in New York as part of the International Studio and Curatorial Program.Her works, which have been featured in several European museums, often feature the female body and are meant to challenge gender stereotypes.
"Art is one of the only places left where we can truly be free and discuss whatever difficult topics there are, since art has the ability to translate and transform language in any direction possible," she said.