A pair of performance artists caused an upset at the Prado when they stripped off to pose in front of Albrecht Dürer’s oil panels Adam and Eve. The naked duo were quickly removed from the Madrid museum and taken into police custody on Thursday, September 13, but not before some visitors had the chance to snap a few pictures of the incident.
The artist Adrián Pino Olivera tells artnet News that it was a performance about gender fluidity, and not a stunt. “The purpose of the action at Prado was to show that the conception of man and woman established by the Bible with Adam and Eve is so old fashioned,” he says. “Gender is just a construction, so a man can feel like a woman and a woman can feel just the opposite.” He adds that the piece was a celebration of Eve, and he was embodying her figure by concealing his masculine genitalia as he posed.
Olivera’s companion, who posed in front of Dürer’s Adam, was his best friend, Jet Brühl, who Olivera explains is a “non-binary identifying person.” Olivera has collaborated with Brühl in other artistic actions before, and says that he chose them for this performance “because it was a way to express these other options in the world of gender.”
Following the incident, the pair were taken into police custody and handed a €50 fine ($58) for the offence of public nudity.
The action at the Prado was not Olivera’s first time getting naked in a museum. It is a part of “Project V,” which is “dedicated to the goddess Venus, the sacred feminine,” Olivera explains. He has enacted similar performances in museums around Europe, stripping off in front of works of art including the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, John Everett Millais’s Ophelia at Tate Britain, and Edouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe at the Musée d’Orsay, among others.
The series began in 2014, when Olivera baptized himself, naked, as The Boyfriend of Venus, in front of Sandro Boticelli’s famous Birth of Venus in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He then sought out different works expressing different nuances of the feminine for his performances; the maternal, sexual exploitation of women, the divine feminine, and so on. He also appeared symbolically castrated in front of several works depicting men including Michelangelo’s David, in order to prompt a critique of the masculine domain.
“Every performance is kind of a ritual,” Olivera says, promising more performances in the coming months.
A spokesperson for the Prado museum told artnet News that the action was not linked to the Prado’s programming in any way. She says the museum followed its usual protocol in cases like this; a guard asked the naked visitors to get dressed and the police were called. She added that the Prado will not be pressing criminal charges.
See more images from Olivera’s museum performances below.