By on February 9, 2016

New book explores a Bhutanese obsession that incites American discomfort.


Valley doc Marc Domsky unveils his new book Friday at Asymbol that captures phallus images found throughout Bhutan along with slices of Bhutanese life. (Photo: Marc Domsky)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Marc Domsky heard about the phallus images in Bhutan before he first visited in 2012. The anesthesiologist expected to see a few and thought it would be especially fun since his traveling companion and wife is urologist Lisa Finkelstein. But he wasn’t prepared for how prevalent the symbol was throughout the country.

Phallus drawings adorned doorways, store signs and restaurants. “Anywhere you see a phallus is a strange place to see it,” Domsky said. “It would be like walking in the Town Square and seeing one over Teton Mountaineering.”

At first it simply made Domsky smile. Then he started to realize the drawings and paintings were incredible works of art. He started taking photos, knowing he had to share the artwork with people at home in Jackson. The phallus images represent good luck and protection and are so different than anything you see in the United States, he explained.

Those pictures were the start of his book, “Phallus through Bhutan: Journey of the Magic Thunderbolt,” which Domsky will release and sign at a party on Friday at Asymbol Gallery. The 68-page, soft-cover book sells for $19.95 and will be available at Valley Bookstore as well as at the signing. Domsky will also sell framed and unframed photos Friday.

Some people Domsky showed his images to said they didn’t get it. “What is there to get?” Domsky said. “All I’m doing is showing you there is artwork in another culture that is not bothered by this symbol. On one hand it’s incredible artwork. And two, it’s an eye opener on how a culture perceives something we see and feel so offended by.”

The images in the book, which are photos of paintings, carvings and sculpture, can be graphic and detailed, but they are meant to be happy, not aggressive, he said. “There isn’t one person who looks at it who doesn’t smile.” PJH

Reception and book signing: “Phallus through Bhutan: Journey of the Magic Thunderbolt,” 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday at Asymbol Gallery in the Pink Garter Plaza.

About Kelsey Dayton

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