IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Giant vagina sculpture fuels culture wars in Brazil

Artist Juliana Notari said the sculpture questioned the relationship between nature and culture in a "phallocentric and anthropocentric society."
Artist Juliana Notari installed her artwork titled Diva in a park in Pernambuco, Brazil.
Artist Juliana Notari installed her artwork titled Diva at the Usina de Arte art park in Pernambuco, Brazil.Juliana Notari

RIO DE JANEIRO — A huge sculpture of a vagina on a hillside in northeastern Brazil has fueled a cultural war between leftists and conservatives — including close allies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Called “Diva,” the vivid 108-foot concrete and resin sculpture by artist Juliana Notari is on the site of a former sugar mill that has been turned into an open-air museum in Pernambuco state.

Unveiling the installation last week, Notari said it depicted both a vagina and a wound questioning the relationship between nature and culture in a “phallocentric and anthropocentric society.”

Artist Juliana Notari installed her artwork, titled "Diva" at the Usina de Arte art park in Pernambuco, Brazil.Juliana Notari

“These issues have become increasingly urgent today,” she wrote on her Facebook page, accompanied by a series of photos of the vast, bright red sculpture, which took a team of 20 artisans 11 months to make.

The artwork triggered a hot debate on social media, with more than 25,000 people commenting on Notari’s Facebook post — both supporters and critics.

“With all due respect, I did not like it. Imagine me walking with my young daughters in this park and them asking ... Daddy, what is this? What will I answer?” one commenter wrote.

In response, a female poster wrote: “With all due respect, you can teach your daughters not to be ashamed of their own genitals.”

Bolsonaro’s political guru, Olavo de Carvalho, took to Twitter to lambaste Notari’s work — seemingly proposing a giant penis sculpture as a way to challenge it.

His comments drew nearly 700 retweets, many laden with outspoken criticism against leftists.

Bolsonaro has long criticized art he deems to be left-wing, and in 2019 he tried unsuccessfully to freeze funding for movies with LGBTQ themes.

Months later, his culture secretary was fired after posting a video in which he appeared to copy a speech by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.