Vito Acconci’s ‘High Rise’ phallus sculpture addresses skyscraper machoism

<High Rise by Vito Acconci, 1980>

Today, there’s a race around the world – particularly in the Middle East and Asia – to put up the world’s tallest buildings.  The United Arab Emirates, China, Malaysia and Taiwan are leading the pack.  London’s pyramidal 105 storey SHARD by Renzo Piano has poked its way into the sky.

“High Rise”, the sculpture, addresses the macho nature of skyscrapers.  It’s a collapsible structure painted on one side with a giant phallus, which visitors can raise by pulling on levers.  Curator MICHAEL DARLING: “It’s flaccid until visitors come in and hoist this thing into the air.”

TORONTO, home to nearly 2,000 high-rise buildings already, is rapidly adding to its collection.  Marching across the cityscape, they’re everywhere it seems – from the farthest suburb to the city centre.  About 140 new towers are presently under construction – some good, some bad.

MICHAEL DARLING: “The skyscraper is a metaphor for progress and modernity and even prosperity.” – The Art Newspaper, July/August 2012


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