The three-panel relief by sculptor Peter Lenk presents a lively panorama of cartoonish Germans; in one corner, five top German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, are shown naked and laughing and grabbing one another's genitals.
Local politicians have called the work, which has brought a steady stream of tourists, "piggish" and "cheap effect-mongering," and local residents have criticized Mayor Matthias Weckbach for commissioning "pornography" and paying for it partly with public funds. The panel with the contested scene, however, is a two-year donation by the artist himself.
Lenk says he wanted to show "political group sex" in part to protest a controversial welfare-reform package created by the five depicted politicians that has been linked to several scandals involving corporate money and public figures.
"When it comes to their privileges and taking money out of the pockets of citizens," he said, "they all hold the scepter, so to speak. Politics is far more pornographic than any art."
He also said that while political scandals quickly fade from the public's attention, "a memorial like this will stay around and irritate them a bit longer."