Illiana Somoroff

The Duality of the Phallic Object

A conversation with Rixta van der Molen

When is something phallic? Are we constantly being penetrated? Rixta van der Molen is a young artist who is working with wax and sculpture making to question how our society thinks about “phallic objects.”


Phallic High Society overview image -

Glorifying the Masculine

She wants us to challenge the architecture which surrounds us and question how our society has been set up to glorify the masculine. In my conversation with Rixta, she tells me about how she began to notice phallic objects everywhere in her surroundings, as she began to become aware of what a “phallic shape” really means. 

The first question Rixta wanted to explore was: “what is a phallic shape?” 

To do so, she made three phallic objects at first, to see what they all had in common. After assessing these objects, she began to decorate them in order to see if they would still be “phallic.” 


Rixta’s medium in her work is wax and chicken wire, which she chose because she wanted something that was faster to mold than ceramics, but that one could still easily touch. Rixta began experimenting with these materials, using red wax, which one has to normally melt over heat. However, Rixta experimented in different ways by sitting on it, to warm it, and then break off tiny pieces of it with her hands. The feeling of touching the warm wax with the sharpness of the chicken wire, is the exact contrast that she was looking for. 

After working with this material for longer, she noticed that it was very smooth and almost looked like chocolate or mud. She compares this with the chicken wire, which is made up of holes, an anti-phallic object.

It is clear that Rixta’s unique definitions of what is phallic or anti-phallic is what drove this project to being what it is. 

The Duality of the Phallic Object

Specifically, when Rixta was explaining the definition of phallic objects she refers to the traditions of architecture. She describes phallic objects as something which is penetrating, which she automatically associated with violence. This is because these objects take up more space than anything else. They are obvious, eye-catching and out in the open. Furthermore, she discusses how there is a “duality to the phallic object” because where there is a phallic object, there is something (space), being penetrated. As a result, this enables us to reflect on how the architecture surrounding us perpetuates patriarchy and violence. 

Although it is important to analyze the violence which Rixta is challenging here, she always wanted to create a “sexual landscape” that can be seen as playful. She even tells me that in the show she was able to see children playing around which made it almost seem like a “playground.” 


Phallic High Society close-up image -


Another important aspect of Phallic High Society is how Rixta, herself was part of the art show. Rixta made a structure, made from wax and chicken wire, which acted like a bar where the viewers could order drinks. There is a catch though! Rixta would make a drink for the viewer only if they listened to her story. This brings up the interesting notion of what it means to be a “serviceable female,” as Rixta calls it. Here, we see how she is addressing how females are pressured to be ‘serviceable’ to everyone but Rixta wants us to take a moment, reflect and listen to her story. 


Phallic High Society serviceable bar -