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Yes, This Public Sculpture Is Really Made From Condoms

Hundreds of glowing, pendulous prophylactics liven up a drab square in Madrid.

How do you fill 800 condoms with water and light bulbs in one day? Simple: Enlist the nimble little fingers of kids.

The Spanish street-art group Luz Interruptus proved the feasibility of a child-labor assembly line for making public art for a recent installation in Madrid called "Lluvia Profiláctica Eue No Moja" ("Prophylactic Rain That Doesn’t Wet Anything"). The anonymous artists, who have a history of dealing out licks of political commentary in the form of light art, were upset that the government had dismantled a public swimming pool to make way for a posh shopping complex. So they decided to bring the memory of water to the neighborhood in the form of liquid-filled contraceptives, chosen apparently for their likeness to fat raindrops.

The Luz crew were partly into setting up their screen of pendulous rubbers, which were mood-lit in blue from internal LEDs, when they found themselves surrounded with children curious about what was going down in their neighborhood. The artists swiftly enlisted the wee ones in injecting and tying the swollen condoms while attempting, unsuccessfully, to prevent them from lobbing the things at each other like water balloons. At the end of the afternoon, the group had transformed a public square from drab concrete expanse to glimmering galaxy of floating prophylactics, a picture stolen straight from a pounding downpour in a parallel universe built on the dreams of Ron Jeremy.

Here's the artists describing the magic in the air that day (the text is a translation from the original Spanish):

To give them shape we used condoms, yes, condoms, extra large and extra strength, to which we added blue colored water, to turn them into big drops, with feel and form of silicone breasts, very pleasant to touch and squeeze. With them we created a square space, delimited by suspended droplets in which one could immerse themselves and touch them, listening to the gentle sound of the moving water.

Thanks to the magic of light and water, we were able to convert 800 common condoms, into a sensory and relaxing refuge, suitable for all audiences.

The artwork stood for a weekend before some other kids burst a bunch of the condoms like gross piñatas, collecting the glowing diodes from the ground afterward. A lone child with a sharp stick finished off what remained of the installation. But here's a video showing what it looked like when intact; head on over to Luz's website for more pretty photographs.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.