In a day in age where sexual assault has become disturbingly prevalent in society, maybe a statue of two naked children, as one rides the other while pulling their hair, is not such a good idea.
The Triton Babies Fountain statue has been apart of the Boston Public Garden since 1927. It was the Garden’s first statue crafted by a woman, Anna Coleman Ladd. The statue is supposed to represent Ladd’s two daughters.
The statue, in the eyes of many, is pornographic and looks wrong. Wander into the northeast section of the park and catch the reactions of innocent patrons. You’ll find parents covering their children’s eyes, people stuck frozen with their jaws dropped and the occasional “I’m uncomfortable” someone passing by will say as they stare at the “unique” figure.
What’s the message here? What is the purpose of one young naked child sitting on top of another naked child seemingly riding the other like a horse? In a season with warmer weather when the statue is surrounded by water, sure maybe it can get away from time to time without being noticed. When it’s winter and the concrete bowl the statue is in is empty, however, and people get the chance to check it out up close, the responses are not pretty.
Defenders of the statue point to its history and Anna Coleman Ladd. Sometimes, they even go as far to say that the statue’s meaning is misconstrued by those who take just a quick glance. Go ahead, take a long glance. In fact, inspect the whole thing. There is nothing more to it than what is presented. I bet most parents would not let their children physically interact with each other unclothed, so the “meaning argument” is nonsensical.
To ease minds, you don’t necessarily have to take an axe to Ladd’s work; a simple plaque with context would do the trick. As it stands, no such plaque exists and that leaves it up to the viewer’s imagination, which leads to the underlying problem.
When a television network is about to broadcast something graphic, it provides the viewer with a warning like: “Viewer Discretion is Advised”. Even something simple like a painting in a museum often times has a mini-description. If this statue has any saving grace, it would be to provide the significant context that is currently missing.
At the end of the day, no matter how long and hard one stares at the Triton Babies Fountain statue it looks sexually explicit and not appropriate for a public garden in 1927, let alone 2017.