The iconography of the winged phallus has a long history. It dates back to Ancient Rome, where it symbolised the deity of fertility, Fascinus. Roman jewellery, wind chimes and household items were designed in the form of such phalli, while entire pagan festivities were dedicated to Fascinus, events recounted by Saint Augustine of Hippo. Unsurprisingly, such displays were considered obscene by the Christian clergy.
The appearance of such iconography in more modern times though is rare. It is not clear whether the winged phallus carried additional meaning in the 18th and 19th centuries, beyond its ancient purpose of warding off danger or transmitting magical powers. Clearly though the associations of fertility, orgiastic excess and religious subversion persist.
Here, the composition is hidden behind a print, revealed only by opening the latch on the frame. The concealment of the picture both protects viewers’ sensibilities and allows for a surprising and staged discovery of the hidden work.