Poster art put up on Leith Walk as part of a Leith Late initiative has reportedly made a two-year-old cry.
The artwork, dubbed ‘upsetting,’ is by Kirsty Whiten, and is part of a wider “WRONGER RITES: The Quing of the Now Peoples,” exhibition.
— Dan (@Danjedinburgh) June 19, 2015
According to Leith Late, her work aims to “set up narratives that pick apart the social norm, particularly in relation to gender and sexuality, highlighting and criticising accepted behaviours.”
— elliemayze (@elliemayze) June 19, 2015
The controversial poster, that has sparked calls for it to be removed, is on a poster barrel on the corner where Leith Walk, and Lorne Street meet.
Its proximity to the entrance of Lorne Street Primary School apparently justified claims it was ‘inappropriate.’
— DaddyDaycareEdin (@DaddyDaycareEdi) June 19, 2015
Possibly the most amusing comment, was not made on Twitter at all. If you look carefully at the photo, you’ll see some wag wrote “I’m not into this kind of thing” straight onto the poster.
Others have defended the poster, arguing most kids would just think it was “funny.”
@Danjedinburgh my guess the kids will find it either funny off stupid, only some adults will be offended
— Graham Stevenson (@graham_c21) June 19, 2015
Now of course there’ll be some who take the view that art should be challenging, and spark debate, and thus this wee exchange of views shows that Leith Late is doing its job, by putting something a bit thought provoking in a prominent public space.
— LeithLate (@leithlate) June 19, 2015
In response to the criticism, Leith Late apologised on Twitter, and in a statement emailed to Greener Leith Morvern Cunningham, Leith Late Director said: “I understand that art can be at times provoking and challenging for people. It is never our intention to cause offence, and I believe that all of our public art initiatives are suitable for public consumption.”
Update 21/6/2015: Since this post was published it has, perhaps unsurprisingly sparked further debate. On our Facebook page, it’s notable that people there seem to largely agree that this artwork is probably less offensive than many of the marketing messages that routinely adorn our shopping streets.
Update 23/6/2015: Today the offending poster was removed, at the request of council officials, only to be replaced by another of Kirsty Whiten’s other artworks, this time depicting a “horse-headed man in high heels.”
We’re grateful to Kirsty for supplying a better quality image of her original artwork, and so we added it to this post today. She also shared her views on the matter.
In a statement sent to Greener Leith she hit out at what she called the “knee jerk” reaction from council officials to the criticism of her work.
She said: “I am the artist who made the images on the poster tower outside Boda bar. As an artist I intend to provoke but I’m not out to upset anyone.
“I very carefully considered which images to place there. I’m quite fascinated that this one image has caused ‘offence’, there is nothing explicitly sexual about the image, as a body in a bikini doesn’t stand out on the high street, there are an unending supply of these in advertising.
“Perhaps it’s the body type that required censorship? A fat body standing proud? Unglamourised and a little queer?
“I’m pretty gobsmacked that a smattering of criticism has resulted in the image being effectively censored (it has been removed and replaced by one of the other figures). I consider it a knee-jerk reaction by Edinburgh Council to instigate its removal in this manner.”