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Fear of offending Emiratis, private parts of Michelangelo's David statue censored at Dubai Expo

Fear of offending Emiratis, private parts of Michelangelo's David statue censored at Dubai Expo

Selena Mattei | Oct 4, 2021 4 minutes read

The Italian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will feature a 17-foot-tall 3D-printed replica of the David statue. After being postponed last year due to the pandemic, the expo this year features examples of innovation and culture from all over the world. According to reports, David's private parts were concealed to protect the modesty of conservative Emiratis and VIPs. The decision, however, has been roundly criticized by artists and art critics.


The Italian pavilion at EXPO 2020 Dubai ©

The organizers decided to cover the male anatomy of the statue

At the Dubai Expo, a massive 3D-printed replica of Michelangelo's famous David statue has sparked controversy after organizers decided to cover the statue's male anatomy to avoid offending conservative Muslims. In the end, event organizers decided to place the 17-foot-tall replica in a column with a stone slab covering its private areas rather than in the Italian pavilion, where it was originally intended to go.

It was originally planned for last year, but due to the pandemic, it has been postponed until 2020. The Dubai Expo 2020 aims to showcase examples of innovation and culture from countries all over the world, while UAE authorities hope it will attract more investment and tourism. Because public nudity is illegal in the UAE, the statue's unveiling to Emirati VIPs was met with "enormous embarrassment".

The censorship sparked an uproar among Italian artists and critics.

An outcry has erupted among Italian artists and critics over the decision to cover much of David's replica with stone barriers. Michelangelo sculpted the original David statue in 1504 and it was first placed in Florence's Piazza della Signoria before being moved to the Florence Academy of Fine Arts in 1873. The statue was moved again in 1873. It's one of the world's most recognizable pieces of art and a major tourist attraction in Italy to this day.

A 17-foot-tall replica of David can be found at the Dubai Expo thanks to the use of laser scans and 3D printing technology. To replicate the original sculpture's look, the resin replica was dusted with marble dust before being cast. Unlike the original David, which is on display for the public to see, the replica in Dubai is enclosed in a glass and stone chamber, making it difficult for visitors to see much of it. Citing the event organizers' "grotesque and ridiculous" cover-up of David. The director of the Italian pavilion at the Dubai Expo, Davide Rampello, defended the decision as a "unique approach" and denied that it was an issue of censorship on the part of the government. According to Rampello, who chose to place David in a cylindrical chamber so that viewers entering the viewing platform would be met with the actor's marble-brushed gaze, 'It's a different perspective, which is new, introspective, and moving."

It was too late, to add underwear to the statue

Visitors entering from the ground floor will still have a clear view of the statue, according to Rampello, but only VIPs will have access to the lower level, according to event organizers. It was too late, according to another Italian who worked on the project, to add underwear to the statue or otherwise alter it. When we arrived in the Emirate, we realized too late that the statue of a naked man we had brought was inappropriate.

A veritable melting pot of cultures, technology, and innovation will be on display in Dubai for Expo 2020 - the first Middle Eastern world fair to host over 190 countries, with the notable exception of the Taliban-ruled country of Afghanistan, which is conspicuously absent from the event. To make Expo Village a successful tourist destination and a draw for international investors, Dubai has risked billions of dollars. Expo Village has become a symbol for the United Arab Emirates as a whole.


David, Michelangelo, Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence

European Parliament called on member states to boycott Expo

While the glamour of the event may mask the turbulence of international politics, the underlying issues remain. Officials from the expo confirmed six deaths on Sunday: three from Covid and three from construction-related injuries, but they wouldn't say if there were any other fatalities. Three of the six workers died. Other alleged infringements include underpaying or not paying employees, and charging them fees for employment.

Even though the UAE doesn't have a national minimum wage, the European Parliament called on member states to boycott the Expo because of the United Arab Emirates' "inhumane practices" toward migrant workers, which it argued were exacerbated by the pandemic. The Expo has only set a monthly wage of 1,000 dirhams (€230) for cleaning services staff.

The European Parliament has unveiled massive Expo pavilions in spite of this, and many countries have accused one another of using their pavilions as political billboards for their candidates.

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