One man's stink is another man's major art project. A piece by Belgian conceptual artist Jan Fabre at the Antwerp's MuHKA contemporary art museum is challenging the nose as well as the eyes.
The installation "Spring is on its way" consists of onions and potatoes hung from the ceiling in condoms. And the vegetables are, well, spoiling.
"Like many of his works, it is about transformation and metamorphosis," MuHKA's Kathleen Weyts said of Fabre, who had a solo show at the Paris Louvre earlier this year.
Weyts claimed that one museum worker complained. Local media reported that plenty of visitors and museum guards were protesting. By Monday, the smelly, rotting onions and potatoes were the talk of the town.
"Protest Against Fabre's Stink Art," headlined Het Nieuwsblad newspaper.
"Fabre's stinking work raises tempers," the VRT television network said on its web site.
Some shoots have broken through the condoms and other condoms have crashed to the ground from the weight of the vegetables.
"It smells of onions, but I would not call it a stink," MuHKA director Bart De Baere told VRT.
The museum has no plans to remove Fabre's installation, which runs until the start of spring 2009, but it is removing any vegetables that hit the ground.
Eight years ago, Fabre covered some university pillars in Ghent in ham. Sure enough, after a while, the complaints came.
"Fabre always says that art must be a bit smelly," said Weyts.