Artist: Strong opinions about giant boobs on Amsterdam canal; Project helped "normalize boobs"

Giant boobs on Amsterdam's canals for International Women's Day, 8 March 2019
Giant boobs on Amsterdam's canals for International Women's Day, 8 March 2019Photo: 72andSunny Amsterdam

Giant boobs floating on Amsterdam's canals on International Women's Day last week were a major hit among most who saw them. NL Times spoke to the creators of the floating sculptures about their inspiration for the project and the challenges they faced in creating it. The main goal was to normalize boobs, 72&Sunny said. "Actually, through the process of creating these we normalized them a little to ourselves. We started a little embarrassed saying 'boob' a million times a day in the office, and to each other. Slowly it wasn't a big deal."

Creative agency 72&Sunny Amsterdam came up with the idea of giant floating boobs, and artist Ernesto Bos of Bos Deco was called in to realize it. "We conceived the project thinking about feminism and how important messages are often put across in a very serious way. We wondered if we could do something visually striking and arresting and have the same result", 72&Sunny said to NL Times. "To see if something fun and entertaining could provoke people to have serious thoughts and discussions and think about the world they live in."

Bos was asked to produce the pieces because of his work as a decor artist and overall love for unusual builds and objects, he said. He was initially slightly concerned that it would be frowned upon if he, as a man, handled the entire project himself. "So I teamed up with a female colleague, who I do a lot of projects with, who helped me shape the pieces. Other than this I was still outnumbered since the whole team of 72&Sunny was female. So I didn't think too much about it. Personally I think if you talk about gender equality it wouldn't matter if the builder was male or female. As long as the message is rooted in the build", he said. 

"Ernesto intrinsically understood the importance of the message of normalizing boobs", 72&Sunny said. "We don't need to feel weird about them not being perfect, or even having them at all. That is a message for men as well as women. It was important to have someone who understood what we were trying to do, who understood that boobs don't always look like the ones in the magazines, that they are not iconic spheres."

One of the biggest challenges 72&Sunny found in creating this project, was simply finding images for their mood board. "You get nothing or porn, nothing normal. It kind of proved why it was important to get these sculptures with their flaws out into the world."

For Bos, one of the biggest challenges was bringing the boobs to life "without making them too perfect or cartoonish". "Making it appealing to the eye, but still showing imperfections was the biggest challenge. Overdoing a detail could make the whole piece look too fake and under-doing it would undermine the message."

"The overall reaction was pretty positive! I had personal messages from a lot of (female) friends who loved it! A handful of people had a different sound, which I can only say is a good thing", Bos said. "We need strong opinions to change something, whether it's coming from someone who likes or dislikes the pieces. So to the critics that disliked it I would say: thank you for speaking up! I'm open for a different approach and would love to hear what you have to say and how to change the world through art and activations."

72&Sunny thinks that the critics may be the product of the system they were criticizing with their action. "The reason they are shocked is because the boob is over-sexualized and censored so much, we're socialized into shaming women for having them, they're  just a body part. Making objects of the objectified is a fun way of pointing this out. Is their problem just with boobs or the people attached to them?"