‘NaziSexyMouse’ poster causes a stir in Poland

(JTA) — A huge outdoor art poster that features Mickey Mouse’s image with a swastika and a nude woman’s body has outraged Jewish leaders and others in a Polish city.

The poster, which went up in June in the western city of Poznan just steps from a synagogue, is an Italian artist’s take on what he calls the "horrors" of the American lifestyle.

"NaziSexyMouse," by Max Papeschi, is one piece in a contemporary art exhibition opening in the fall.

The head of Poznan’s Jewish community, Alicja Kobus, 64, said she was repulsed by the poster. She first saw the poster after taking Jewish visitors from Holland to the synagogue, which the Nazis turned into a swimming pool.

"It is a shock for people who are still scarred by the hell of the Holocaust," she told The Associated Press.

Prosecutors say the poster is art and does not violate the country’s laws against glorifying Nazism.

City Council member Norbert Napieraj had asked prosecutors to ban the poster, saying that "This art provocation is a form of violence against the sensitivity of many people."

The poster has been vandalized twice; on Tuesday it was no longer stretched across a building in the city center.

Gallery director Maria Czarnecka said she plans to put it back up.

"Art should be provocative and controversial," she told AP, insisting that the poster does not seek to propagate Nazism but instead wants to explore "symbols and how they work."

"The Mickey Mouse head and swastika are on the same level — they don’t mean anything and they are both part of the globalized world," Czarnecka said.

Papeschi explains on his website that the series, which he dubs "Politically-Incorrect," is intended as a commentary on the United States, revealing "all the horror of this lifestyle."

"NaziSexyMouse" also was being shown this week in Berlin as part of an exhibition at a sister gallery, but the image has not been displayed publicly there and has sparked no outcry. 

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