Apr 18, 2017 | By Tess

The case of Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, also known by the name Rokdenashi-ko (Good-for-nothing-girl), has had a recent update as the Tokyo High Court upheld a lower court’s decision to charge Igarashi with obscenity for the distribution of 3D scanned models of her vagina. The controversial artist has been ordered to pay a fine of 400,000 yen ($3,700).

Igarashi’s case began in 2014 when the now 45-year-old artist was arrested for distributing 3D models of her vagina to support her 3D printed vagina art project. Since then, Igarashi—who we greatly admire—has been fighting to clear her name and, importantly, to break down taboos that surround female genitalia in Japan. The 3D printed vagina case is a significant one, as it has put a direct spotlight on Japan’s arguably extreme censorship laws.

Those who have been following Igarashi’s case as closely as us will likely remember that almost a year ago Japanese courts convicted the artist of obscenity and brought forth the ¥400,000 fine. This ruling charged Igarashi for having distributed 3D scans of her own vagina, which she sent out in 2014 as crowdfunding rewards for her 3D printed vagina kayak project.

At the same time, the lower court ruling also acquitted the Japanese artist of another charge she was up against: of displaying obscene materials for exhibiting vagina-shaped plaster sculptures. This last charge was thrown out because her sculptures were brightly painted, thus making them less realistic.

Megumi Igarashi with the 3D printed "Vagina Boat"

And while the ruling may have been a landmark for the acquittal (which are apparently extremely rare for obscenity cases), many, including the artist herself, were not satisfied with the decision. As she said at the time, she was only 20% happy with the court’s decision and planned to appeal the obscenity charges in a higher court.

Now, after much anticipation, the Tokyo High Court has ultimately sided with the lower court’s decision, and it seems Igarashi will be forced to pay a 400,000 yen fine for having distributed obscenity. The court also maintained the lower court’s decision to acquit her for having displayed her vagina-shaped “Deco-man” sculptures.

If the whole notion of art censorship seems a bit strange to you, you’re not alone. Igarashi has put herself on the line to draw attention to and ultimately break down Japan’s outdated and frankly bizarre censorship laws surrounding female genitalia. The laws, which have been in place for the past 50 years, have effectively made any representations of female genitalia illegal. Famously, even Japanese pornography must blur out female genitals.

In response to the high court ruling, Igarashi says she will continue to fight and has already filed an appeal to the ruling. “It’s wrong for the government to judge what is art and what is not,” the artist said in an interview with The Japan Times. As she explains it, the harsh enforcement of the obscenity law has muffled artists and forced them to censor their own work.

Currently, Igarashi is maintaining that her distribution of her 3D scanned vagina was part of her Vagina Boat art project and is therefore not obscene. On a larger scale, the artist wants to help normalize and dismantle taboos that surround the female body in Japan, especially in light of how male genitalia is outwardly celebrated. (See Japan’s Kanamara Matsuri festival, where penises are literally paraded down the street.)

Igarashi, who now resides in Ireland with her family, is hoping to be acquitted by the Japanese Supreme Court so that she can continue displaying her 3D printed vagina artworks in her native country. Her recent book, called What Is Obscenity: The Story of a Good for Nothing Artist and Her Pussy, has been nominated for the L.A. Times Book Prize.

 

 

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Kuso Tare wrote at 4/25/2017 12:05:18 AM:

I see. But Japan's giant outdoor penis worship festival is OK. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanamara_Matsuri



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