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We Spoke With the Artist Whose Porn-filled Mosaic is Making the Ontario PC Party Freak

Vaginas, and dicks, and sex in government buildings, oh my.

Sierra Bein

Sierra Bein

Sacred Circles VI, by Rosalie H Maheux. Courtesy http://rosaliehmaheux.tumblr.com/

A seemingly innocent piece of art that is actually a collage of pornographic images has been on display in the lobby of an Ontario government office building in Toronto since June 30, but is now receiving criticism from the province's Progressive Conservatives.

"Sacred Circles VI," by French-Canadian artist, Rosalie Maheux is currently being featured at the John B. Aird Gallery's "30 under 30" Exhibition.

At first glance, "Sacred Circles VI" is an intricate mosaic, but upon giving it a closer look, the image is made up of nude women in sexual positions and performing sexual acts. The close-up view isn't one that the PC party wants anyone to see in a government building.

PC women's critic, Laurie Scott, has spoken out and made clear her "disappointment" that the Liberals would allow for this piece to go on display. "Regardless of the aims or intent of the artist, Ontarians expect their government to lead by example in combating the sexual objectification of women," said Scott in a statement reported by the CBC.

Maheux has said that this piece is meant to be beautiful from afar, but jarring up close to represent the beauty and disgust that are common in both religion and pornography, she wrote in a statement. Mandalas, or sacred circles, are known as spiritual guidance tools in many different religions, to help with meditation and symbolize purity.

"The irony in my work is that it becomes more challenging as you approach it, as its elements draw our attention to our stake in the politics of looking, voyeurism, sexual degradation, sexism, sexuality, and so on," wrote Maheux.

When VICE spoke to Maheux, she said that she was surprised by the backlash, and that she worries people have not really engaged with, or even seen the art before they speak out.

"This series is a series I've shown many times, I've gotten good feedback all the way, that brings a lot of interesting, positive discussion," Maheux told VICE.

"It's not about women objectification at all, it's the opposite, totally," she said. "The piece is not pornographic, I use pornography as a medium to express that idea."

The Liberals, as well as the gallery have defended Maheux's piece, saying that the space is public and operated by an independent board of directors, comprised of volunteers from the community and four art societies.

In a statement from the gallery, they said the painting "creates a confrontation with the sacred" and that it is not in their practice to censor pieces of art.

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