Mark Billy, “Replica: Don’t Touch Mark Billy” (2010) (installation view, #TheSocialGraph)

Mark Billy‘s penis once got stolen, but that didn’t bother the intrepid artist. He just made a new one! After installing his resin and beard hair sculpture penises, called “Don’t Touch Mark Billy,” at the X-Initiative’s Bring Your Own Art exhibition, one of Billy’s four penises went missing. A Craigslist ad created by the artist called for the return of the lost penis sculpture, but to no avail: the organ was never found. This time, Billy used some extra protection.

But the mystery did attract media attention. Billy’s Craigslist ad got picked up by Gothamist and found its way to Artnet, eventually netting over 35,000 hits in a social media frenzy. It could be said that Billy’s penis went viral, but in a good way.

Version 2.0 of the sculpture, “Replica: Don’t Touch Mark Billy” (2010) is on display at Hyperallergic’s #TheSocialGraph. Now the penis sculpture is enclosed in pop-open plastic packaging, like a product in no convenience store I’ve ever seen before. The artist says the replica sculpture still attracts attention though. Another theft was attempted in a bar, though Billy was able to spot his work in the thief’s purse before it was spirited away.

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

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