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Bar faces obscenity complaint over pirate crew member

Harry Rekas with his artwork, which has been digitally altered.

Harry Rekas with his artwork, which has been digitally altered. Photo: Meredith O'Shea

Perverted pirates have landed St Kilda watering hole Dog's Bar in trouble after local police received an obscenity complaint about the artwork in which the dirty old rogue's member features far too prominently.

Police visited the Acland Street bar on Tuesday to examine the photographic composite image, which displays two penises.

Dare to see the full, unedited image? Click here

Owner David Carruthers posted on Facebook: "I have been visited by the police to inform me we had a complaint about this piece of art and I may be taken to court and prosecuted for displaying obscene images in public!" Mr Carruthers posted on Facebook.

Police confirmed a complaint was made on February 11 and that the investigation was continuing.

The artwork is by Melbourne art director Harry Rekas, who added the exposed penis to an original photographic work by Gerard O'Connor.

"Well, yes, it's a photograph," Rekas said. "I trawled the internet to find the penis and don't remember whose it was, I'm afraid. In fact, there are two of them."

He said the work was based on that of American artist Robert Crumb's cartoon Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates, published in 1968.

 Rekas said he was not aware the image was displayed at Dog's Bar before he heard of the controversy.

He said he was bemused by the obscenity claim because the image had previously hung at two Fitzroy galleries, Red Gallery and The Colour Factory, the National Trust's Tasma Gallery in East Melbourne, the Australian Centre of Photography in NSW and in China.

It was also published in Rekas' magazine, which was distributed in Australia, the United States and Britain.

"I guess people can be offended," Rekas said.

This is the second time in a year St Kilda police have been called to Acland Street following an obscenity complaint about an artwork featuring an exposed penis.

The street's Linden Gallery was raided in June last year after a local resident complained about an installation by Paul Yore featuring a urinating Justin Bieber image.

Mr Yore will contest charges of producing and possessing child pornography in July this year.

This story states that Captain Pissgums and his Perverted Pirates was created by artist Robert Crumb. The work was created by a contemporary of Crumb’s, artist S. Clay Wilson.
Photographer Gerard O’Connor and art director Harry Rekas’ are in dispute over the authorship of the work.

9 comments so far

  • What kind of prudish, luddite complains about nudity in artwork. If you don't like it, don't go to that bar. What does it say about our society when nudity becomes illegal in artwork? Can you imagine some of the master works of art that never would have been if nudity had have been illegal in art since the dawn of time.

    The person complaining obviously has not got enough meaningful or interesting going on in their life to bother spending the time making complaints like this.

    Commenter
    No Prude
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    March 06, 2014, 8:53AM
    • It is their right as an individual to go somewhere and be offended by what is inside, haven't you noticed its all about MEEEEEEE.......

      Commenter
      shemp
      Location
      melb
      Date and time
      March 06, 2014, 9:29AM
  • I feel so offended by those offended right now.

    When will my rights NOT to be offended by the offended be respected!

    All this self-righteous indignation has to have somewhere to go...

    Commenter
    Enraged Sock-puppet
    Date and time
    March 06, 2014, 10:14AM
    • Fo heaven's sake, get a grip!

      Commenter
      Adamm Ferrier
      Location
      St Kilda East
      Date and time
      March 06, 2014, 10:14AM
      • I think someone should lodge a complaint about Chloe as well. You might even be able to argue she's a child, her age of 19 was only guesstimated. That would certainly be an impeteus to sort out the overly sensitive PC. Hmm... might go to the national gallery and come up with several compaints to lodge too.

        Gerard

        Commenter
        Gerard
        Location
        Melb
        Date and time
        March 06, 2014, 10:20AM
        • Do we need a reminder as to what "art" is;
          1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
          2. the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.

          People need to seriously relax a little, it's not like its hung in the street window.
          You're going to an 'Arts' based bar in St Kilda, what more do you expect? To be offended, really?
          Instead of escalating a drama, complaining to the Manager would have been the best first step practice. What a drama-queen!

          Commenter
          Miss Lauder
          Location
          St Kilda
          Date and time
          March 06, 2014, 10:25AM
          • What next, a call to visit the National Gallery of Victoria to stamp out all the filfth on display there? Thank you Tony Abbott

            Commenter
            Jace
            Date and time
            March 06, 2014, 11:02AM
            • Fascinating artwork, but the old fellas penis is not half as gut wrenching as some of the other Photos? available from the link below.. Realism beats all those "modern" things where you have to overwork your imagination and then don't know what the artist is trying to say. These jump out and grab you by the throat Just amazing. I wish each of them had been given a name.

              Commenter
              dobbieb
              Location
              Wollongbar
              Date and time
              March 06, 2014, 2:35PM
              • What about the penis' on the statues around all the cities in Australia - should they be removed from the public view? It's art, for arts sake.

                Commenter
                Kevin
                Location
                Melbourne
                Date and time
                March 06, 2014, 4:28PM

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