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Good Morning, Spider-Man!
Superheroes have influenced different facets of our lives for as long as they have been around. From art to advertising, the unique form of comic books and the extraordinary characters that live within their pages can be seen everywhere. One example of this is South Korean artist Eunsuk Yoo’s controversial Spider-Man piece, Good Morning Spidey.
“I am the artist who made this piece. My reason for it was that I wanted to apply the natural physical phenomenon to a superhero to depict what's natural in the morning without lies and superficial-ness in a comical way."
Yoo was a student at Pusan National University when he created the sculpture in 2010 as a study of the human body. The depiction of Spider-Man was mounted on the exterior of a Lotte shopping center above a children’s playground from 2013 to 2014, before controversy over it sprang to life.
Though many saw this iteration of Spider-Man as offensive, Yoo’s statue, along with much of his work, is culturally significant. The piece seeks to express freedom of creativity in a significantly traditional and conservative society. It also illustrates one of the natural sides of being a young male and shows us that even the strongest and most “perfect” among us are human also.
How'd He Get Up There?!
The piece was selected by a manager from Lotte mall to be installed on the side of their Busan location after seeing it on exhibit. A year later, people began to take notice of Spider-Man and his manhood, specifically parents whose children played beneath him. Lotte management received numerous complaints and soon met to address the issue.
Yoo is dedicated to maintaining the truth in his art, even it it means the art goes unseen. He responded to an ultimatum given to him by Lotte in a statement, saying:
“I was asked to fix a specific part of the body to make it look normal, but if I did that it would be nothing more than a regular statue of Spiderman. I didn’t set out to make a figure but rather a piece of art. So if I were to modify it, it would spoil the piece.”
Truth, Justice, And Creative Expression!
Yoo has continued to make artwork that uses characters from the Marvel and DC universes to remind us that even the mightiest among us are flawed and relatable. One of his more recent pieces is a statue of the Hulk wearing boxer shorts with smiley faces on them. Upon closer inspection, two mice can be seen near the Hulk suggesting that even the mighty Hulk has irrational fears like the rest of us.
The Bug’s Hero series is another project Yoo has worked on. The pieces in the series mix superheroes with insects. One piece, Batsquit Man, is a cross between Batman and a mosquito.
“Insects wearing the garments of superheroes represent the weakness of contemporary people who feel reliance on a strong object.”
Where Is Spider-Man Now?
The Good Morning Spidey sculpture has not gone to waste. While the parents and management at the sculpture’s previous site may not have appreciated Yoo’s vision, a local medical clinic took an interest. The clinic director purchased the piece and had it installed on the wall of his facility in Busan after a full restoration.
Though many may still struggle to grasp the nature of a piece that depicts a well-known hero with an erection, Yoo has not given up on his mission to use the most extraordinary superheroes to help us see the humanity in both them and ourselves. His work continues push cultural boundaries and ignite discussions about being human and about the necessity of artistic freedom.