A heated debate has erupted after Palm Springs unveiled the proposed design for a memorial sculpture intended to commemorate those lost to AIDS. The 9-foot tall carving, meant to honor individuals who died from the virus, has sparked outrage and mockery on social media for resembling a human orifice.
The structure, carved of a light limestone, is set to be round and embellished with concentric carved circles. According to KESQ-TV, the proposed sculpture was intended “to evoke feelings of connection, reflection, and hope” while “symbolizing the diverse impact of AIDS on the community.”
According to the sculpture’s official website, it was created by artist Phillip K. Smith III and gifted to the city and people of Palm Springs and the Coachella Vally.
“The sculpture will have maximum impact in the Downtown Park by adding great beauty and providing the opportunity for reflection and remembrance. An HIV educational component, including prevention, diagnosis and treatment options is also being planned.”
While some critics were quick to express their distaste for the abstract nature of the piece, others were specifically confused by its obvious resemblance to a human anus.
“The backside of the proposed memorial looks like a graphic depiction of the backside of a human being,” said Gene Brake, Founder of the Jose Sarria Foundation. “I can just visualize the whole slew of potential social media posts, making fun of something that is so important to our community.”
Although the Palm Springs AIDS Memorial Task Force promised residents it would hear their concerns and incorporate feedback into the memorial’s revisions, images of the original designs began circulating online this week, sparking discussion from many who found the structure’s anus-like qualities to be distasteful.
“They made the AIDS memorial in Palm Springs a giant gaping asshole, if you even care,” wrote co-founder of pro-woman news outlet Reduxx, Anna Slatz.
In response, one user said of the sculpture that it was “precisely what a homophobic person would suggest as an offensive joke.” Slatz responded to the user: “I can’t believe at no point, from concept to production, did someone say ‘wait.'”
Indian Bronson, co-founder of matchmaking site Keeper Match, also posted an image of the memorial, stating that he finds the design to be fitting: “I think this is a perfectly fitting AIDS memorial.”
Others, like X user Patrick Allan rhetorically asked in a post what his followers think the structure resembles:
“What do the sculptures look like, to you,” he wrote.
The privately funded monument is projected to cost $500,000 and is scheduled for installation in Downtown Park nearby a local Marilyn Monroe statue.
Currently, donations can be made through an online portal on the Palm Springs Aids Memorial Sculpture website.