Michelangelo's David not censored at Expo, officials say
The Italian pavilion at Expo 2020 features a replica of Michelangelo's statue of David Giuseppe CACACE AFP

Standing tall in Italy's pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is an exact replica of Michelangelo's statue of David, but most visitors will see just the head. For the rest of the naked body, they'll have to lean in and peek.

The 5.2-metre (5.5 yard) statue, created using 3D printers, is partially visible from two floors in the pavilion, with the head and torso appearing on the top level and the genitalia, buttocks and legs on the bottom.

The public are welcome to visit the upper level, where they can clearly see the head and shoulders, while the lower level is reserved for VIPs, dignitaries and institutional visitors who can view David's lower portions.

The way the statue has been displayed has been criticised by some Italian media, who said it was a form of censorship in the Muslim United Arab Emirates that is hosting the world fair.

Considered one of the more open-minded Gulf nations, the UAE late last year revamped an array of laws in a social liberalisation drive designed to burnish its progressive brand.

Organisers have denied any censorship of David, saying that the display "was functional to allow visitors looking at the statue from the first floor of the pavilion to see the David at eye-level".

In a statement, artistic director Davide Rampello said it was a different and "more introspective perspective" than is available of the original Renaissance masterpiece at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence.

It said that the "proof that no censorship has been imposed" lies in the fact that UAE dignitaries took part in the unveiling of the full statue in April.

Organisers also said there were daily meetings on the lower floor involving high-level personalities who "are free to observe... the lower part of the statue that is fully exposed".

Dubai opened Expo 2020 last week with a flashy ceremony boasting fireworks and light displays in an attempt to woo visitors despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy commissioned the copy of the David statue to represent the country at Expo, which was delayed a year due to Covid-19.

It was made by a team of technicians at Hexagon Italia, under the curatorship of the University of Florence, who produced a high-definition physical copy finished off by master restorers.

The original was sculpted between 1501 and 1504 from a single block of marble, depicting the Biblical hero David, who killed the giant Goliath with his sling.

It was scanned and the replica created out of acrylic resin. At 550 kilograms (1,200 pounds) including the base, it is 10 times lighter than the original.

© 2021 AFP