Tunisia: why is this sculpture so controversial?

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A strange statue appeared at the western entrance to the city of Ghomrassen, in southern Tunisia. While part of an awareness campaign, the work provoked the hilarity of Tunisians, and the embarrassment of the inhabitants who demand its withdrawal.

The region of Ghomrassen, in the south-east of Tunisia, confirms its status as the undeniable capital of science fiction. Star Wars lovers often come to enjoy the lunar landscape that served as a backdrop, in 1977, the first episode of the Hollywood saga. The less cinephiles come to visit the six prehistoric caves that shelters the region to discover the jewels of the Neolithic rock art. Not to mention the remains of the Roman Empire, such as this wall of 2000 years old, or these ancient villages, and sometimes some fossils of dinosaurs! So many well-known curiosities that abounds in this southern region of Tunisia. But as if all this was not enough to reap the tourists, a strange statue had risen from the ground.
The city of Ghomrassen woke up Friday, September 27, decked out with a very original work of art. At the roundabout of the western entrance to the city, a quirky construction, consisting of hundreds of plastic bottles piled up, was installed. So far, everything is going pretty well … With the detail that the arrangement of materials felt the scatological allegory full-nose.
Photos are taken and, quickly, the monument becomes the laughing stock of the Web everywhere in the country. "There is not a work that better represents the current situation," quipped one user, referring to the result of the first round of the presidential election, against which a number of Tunisians are preparing to make a difficult choice. "Finally, we installed the statue of (X, ed) in a roundabout" sneers another, citing the name of a particularly controversial presidential candidate.

"You eat a couscous in Kairouan, you say it to Ghomrassen"

"A dung in Ghomrassen, work of the mayor held by the Islamists", thinks to deduce this other surfer.

This page dedicated to the city of Ghomrassen deplores "a scandal", and attacks the mayor and the artist. "We are now blacklisted!"

The disapproval of the inhabitants is such that young Ghomrassnis proceeded, the day after his installation, to the "profanation" of the sculpture. In front of the controversy aroused by the work of art, the town hall, but also the sculptor who is the author, had to explain.
"We wanted to shock!" Says the sculptor, Zid Assal, 55, in a video posted on his Facebook page.

"I volunteered to do this work, which is part of a cleanliness campaign organized by the town hall. The idea was to draw attention to the harmful effects of this plastic waste on the environment, and whose degradation in nature takes time. We are stifled by these plastic bottles, and we can do many things! "Said Zid Assal, regretting that most of the feedback on social networks is negative.

The Ghomrassen town hall wanted to make it clear on its Facebook page, also to put an end to the jokes on the social networks, that the realization of this sculpture was part of the Journées du volontariat, with the help of Civil society. On this occasion, the collection of plastic waste, the cleaning and decoration of certain streets of the city, etc. were carried out. Actions carried out in conjunction with an awareness campaign since "the cleanliness of the city is our responsibility to all," said the municipal team in a post posted on his Facebook page.

"639 tons of plastic waste are thrown every year in Ghomrassen"

"Are the inhabitants of Ghomrassen condemned to swap the environmental pollution against visual pollution?" Cruelly launches this surfer. A judgment a little too severe in the opinion of some connoisseurs, who believe that this work celebrates, beyond its engaged nature, "the aesthetics of ugliness".

"Did the sculptor Zid Assal commit a fault? It's just an artistic work, subject to criticism. It stops there. "

"International sculptor Zid Assal (…) has conveyed a message about the need to pay more attention to the reign of ugliness and waste in our lives. The sculpture was made to provoke, without more. It was not even finished, by the way. The round the world that has made the information, in less than 24 hours, the convictions that it raised, prove the (positive) role played by Facebook ", insists this friend of the sculptor.

A meeting between the city council and civil society was convened for Monday, September 30, to consider the follow-up to be given to this case. Indiscretions leave no doubt about the intention of local officials to have the sculpture removed. Because if the mayor has given time to the controversy to calm down, after several days, it is difficult to let the merino piss more …



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