Travel News

The sculpture disappears from the German mountain, then is replaced

Police are investigating the disappearance of a seven-foot-tall wooden phallus that was removed from its post atop Grünten Mountain in southern Bavaria over the weekend, then equally mysteriously replaced on Thursday with a replica, obviously a little larger than its predecessor.

The original sculpture was installed by strangers several years ago and had become a tourist destination for hikers.

Holger Stabik, spokesman for the Bavarian police in Kempten, confirmed the investigation in a statement on Thursday. Mr Stabik said police had not yet been able to determine who was responsible for either of the statues. If the owner was responsible for the disappearance, then there was no crime, he said.

The disappearance was reported Monday by the German newspaper Allgäuer Zeitung, and the appearance of a new wooden phallus was reported by the Associated Press.

Mr. Stabik confirmed both accounts, sounding nice about all the media attention. “Again, the police don’t know who owns it or who brought it there,” he said.

All in all, it has been a great month for the random appearance and disappearance of public art installations in Europe and the United States.

A 12-foot-tall metal monolith made headlines when it was discovered by the Utah Wildlife Division on November 10 in a barren canyon in Utah’s Red Rock Country. The structure made headlines again when it was announced on November 23 that it had been unceremoniously abducted by four unknown men.

The provenance of the Utah monolith, which closely resembled that of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” has been the subject of much speculation, but its creator and origins remain unclear. (This has also been a source of irritation to language purists who point out that “lith” means stone, not metal, in Latin, but Mr. Kubrick’s monolith was also not made of stone.)

A Romanian news site reported that a piece of metal similar in size and appearance to Utah was found near an archaeological site in northeastern Romania on November 27. by hikers on Wednesdays. He was kidnapped on Friday and replaced with a cross by a group of men chanting: “Christ is King!”

As for Grünten’s original wooden phallus, which stood over 5,500 feet above sea level, it is not known who created it or exactly when it was placed there.

“For four years the statue sat there without attracting much attention,” said Jakob Neumann, a spokesperson for Deutscher Alpenverein, a 150-year-old German alpine club. “For tourists, a huge wooden phallus looks like a nice photo motif, as you can check on Instagram.”

The statue had become a local icon, even inspiring a nearby brewery to make a tribute beer of the same name: the “Grünten-Zipferl”. The brewery launched its new beer on Wednesday.

(Mr. Neumann helpfully explained that the word “Zipferl” is a variation of a “colloquial word for penis” which is “mainly used in southern Germany and Austria.”)

“It looks like the old penis will not reappear,” Mr Neumann said, given all the chipped wood found by authorities where the statue stood.

“But,” he added, “apparently someone has already created a new one.”

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