An artist, who was apparently trying to make a statement about the relation between masculinity and gun violence, was assaulted last week by another artist’s bodyguards when they saw his replica gun with its penis-shaped ammunition.
The incident occurred at the type of place not usually associated with brutal acts of violence, a Swedish art gallery.
Artist Bengt Andersson stopped by the Rönnquist and Rönnquist gallery in Malmo, Sweden last Wednesday, hoping that his latest work would qualify for an exhibit in the gallery. When began his pitch and opened the box containing his new sculpture, the bodyguards attacked.
The guards were there to protect another visiting artist, Lars Vilks.
Vilks gained widespread notoriety when his artwork depicting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a man with the body of a dog was published six years ago. In 2007, Vilks’ piece appeared in a local Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, and word of the artwork quickly spread.
Death threats were soon aimed at Vilks by Muslims angry at the irreverent depiction of their religion’s founder, whose image is considered sacred to followers of Islam. In 2010, three men were acquitted of plotting to assassinate Vilks. The men, said to be of Iraqi and Somali background, showed up carrying knives to an art exhibit where Vilks was scheduled to appear. But the artist never arrived.
The artwork in Andersson’s box was an oversize sculpture of a revolver with the bullets clearly visible (see photo). Each bullet was sculpted to resemble a penis.
But Vilks’ bodyguards didn’t get the symbolism. As soon as they saw the apparent weapon, they pounced.
After the assault, nothing happened to the guards, but Andersson was forcibly pulled from the gallery and, after a hospital visit, confined to a jail cell for five hours.
Andersson said he had no idea that Vilks was present. “How was I supposed to know that?” said the 73-year-old sculptor. “I just wanted to show off my art.”
Cops in Sweden’s Skåne county sided with the bodyguards.
“When they see a weapon, they have to intervene like this to protect [Vilks], who is subject to a high level of threat,” said a police spokesperson.
SOURCES: The Local, New York Daily News, Huffington Post (2), Metro