Each summer the city of Örebro becomes a canvas for international artists to present their work as part of the Örebro Open Art exhibition. This year, one particular sculpture has caused quite a stir since its installation on the banks of the River Svartån.
The provocative piece is an eight-metre high sculpture of a nude male figure urinating into the river. The statue, named “Bad Bad Boy”, is a far cry, however, from its chubby angelic counterpart Manneken Pis who famously spends his days peeing into a Brussels fountain.
“Bad Bad Boy” by Finnish artist Tommi Toija stands towering over the river bank with his disproportionate body: lanky and topped with an over-sized, round, bald head. His skin, made from clay, is a blistering sunburnt-pink, and his wide-eyed facial expression is as hard to decipher as the art itself.
The installation has prompted discussion between locals and opinion is certainly divided. One Örebro resident, 62-year-old Ebba, was mildly amused. “I think it’s interesting,” she told The Local. “But I am happy it is not here forever.”
Another local, 34-year-old Anna, said she “really hates” the artwork and found the act of urination “provocative”.
Whether you love it or hate it, there is definitely something unusual about the sculpture, which on sight causes an uneasy feeling in your stomach. Is it because he is urinating? Is it the wide-eyed expression on his face? Or is because the figure, although certainly male, is neither man nor child, nor even human?
Artist Tommi Toijas views his work in a somewhat pragmatic light: “For me, it’s just a guy peeing in the river, no more, no less. Some might see it as a funny thing, others might be provoked,” he said in a statement.
Some have certainly been provoked as the sculpture remains as central to conversation as the weather in Örebro. While locals seem more baffled than upset, there does seem to be a sense of uncomfortableness amongst many.
Nevertheless, “Bad Bad Boy” will continue relieving himself until the end of the exhibition, September 1st, whether locals like it or not.