GUM opens exhibition 'Phallus. Norm & Form.'

(21-03-2022) On March 24th, the exhibition 'Phallus. Norm & Form' opens in GUM, Ghent Univer­sity's Museum. The exhibition will be smashing all sorts of stereotypes on sex, gender, science and norms.

The look down leads to questions up there

The penis is everywhere. Where there are people, there are phallic forms: in prehistoric caves, in the graffiti on a WC door and in social media. Medical research is also overwhelmingly about the penis: female genitalia comes in a poor second. Is this justifiable? Or is this the result of unconscious or conscious social bias?

In Phallus. Norm & Form, scientists and artists train their gaze on the nether regions. Is the penis in charge of reproduction? Are sex toys the result of scientific research? Does the phallus make the man - or quite the contrary?

Art in dialogue with science

In keeping with its commitment to provide a “Forum for Science, Doubt & Art”, GUM’s new exhibition presents a dialogue between science and art. The work of national and international researchers (among others, Piet Hoebeke, Guy T’Sjoen, Joz Motmans, Alexis Dewaele, Marieke Dewitte, Patricia Brennan, Nicole Prause, Helen O’Connell and Jasmine Abdulcadir) is joined by that of artists.

There will be artists' work including Berlinde de Bruyckere (BE), Maria Fernanda Cardoso (CO/AU), Murielle Scherre (BE), David Hockney (UK), Grayson Perry (UK), Man Ray (US) and Jean Tinguely (CH). The Ghent visual artist Sofie Muller will be showing new work specially created for the glasshouses in the Botanical Garden.

Dare to Think: an exhibition that inspires doubt

The male member dominates research into reproductive organs, whether in the field of biology or psychology. Female genitalia only come in a poor second.

But are scientists objective? Does society and its norms drive scientific thinking and dictate the subjects that are researched? Is it the scientists who set standards and define what we find normal – a normal penis, a normal man and a normal sexuality?

The exhibtion questions our idées fixes on sex, gender, science and norms. Why do we usually think that bigger is better? Why do people draw cocks in WC cubicles? When you study the penis, can you measure pleasure? And does the phallus make the man, or do our (binary) norms decide for us what we think about forms?

Marjan Doom (© Sophie Nuytten)"Everyone has idées fixes around the phallus. This exhibition aims to challenge them and thus disrupt rigid ideas.”
Marjan Doom - Director GUM

Extensive programme

Together with the exhibition, GUM is launching an extensive programme for the general public, with talks, salons, workshops and much more. These events are a collaboration between GUM and many other organisations, including çavaria, Sensoa, Wel Jong and Transgender Infopunt.

From 24th March 2022 until January 8th 2023.