A time for change

January 24, 2008

If a Democrat wins the presidency in November, the overwhelmingly Democratic city of Baltimore could have a unique way to celebrate: by removing that silver elephant otherwise known as Male/Female from in front of Penn Station. More than any other artwork in the city, that sculpture seems to exemplify the era of the Bush administration.

How so? First, it was foisted upon the people in a technically legal but generally galling way. What the Supreme Court did for George W. Bush in December 2000, the Municipal Art Society did for Male/Female in 2004. Second, it's big and brash and totally insensitive to the reality that surrounds it. Third, its much-vaunted heart is artificial, and its brain is pretty well hidden. Also, its approval ratings are minuscule.

Defenders of Male/Female love to sneer that any criticism of it is unsophisticated. People used to think that criticism of the Bush administration was unsophisticated, too. This sculpture perfectly caught the essence of its time - and we believe that by next year that time will have passed. Send it over to MICA, where the art students can study an artifact of a bygone era.

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