On Saturday, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested for the crime of distributing indecent material. And what did she distribute, exactly? Digital data that represents 3D modeling information of her vagina. After raising around $10,000 via her crowd-sourcing campaign, Igarashi was able to complete the construction of her planned vaginal-shaped kayak. As part of the campaign, donors were promised the digital file from which Igarashi was able to complete her design – it is for sending these files that Igarashi was arrested, and faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If you thought sexist double standards were beyond apparent here in the States, then let me direct you to Japan’s incredible double standards, most strongly evidenced by the celebration of penises in an annual penis festival and their stance on most international pornography standards. Known by the pseudonym rokudenashi-ko ( “good-for-nothing kid”), 42-year-old Igarashi began working with 3D models of her vagina as a response to the shame and ignorance she felt about her own genitalia.
From her web site: “I make art pieces with my vagina, which I would rather call Manko(MK). I thought it was just funny to decorate my vagina and make into a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how upset people get when they see my works or even hear me say the word Manko. Even when a TV station asked me to be on their show, they wouldn’t dare let me say DECO-MAN because “MAN” is from the taboo word “Manko”. Why did I start making these kind of art pieces? It’s because I had never seen the vagina of others and I was too self-conscious of mine. I did not know what a vagina should look like at the same time, so I thought mine was abnormal. Manko and vagina, have been such a taboo in Japanese society. Penis, on the other hand, has been used in illustrations and has become a part of pop culture. But vagina has never been so cute. Vagina has been thought to be obscene because its been overly hidden; although it is just a part of a woman’s body.”
There is a petition circulating advocating for Igarashi’s release that has already collected almost 19,000 signatures. You can watch her crowd-sourcing campaign video here. (via guardian and spoon & tamago)
This unusual carnival certainly isn’t the kind you find at a kid’s party. For “Funland: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Fairground,” artistic duo Bompas & Parr show off a series of bold and whimsical installations at New York City’s Museum of Sex. Immersive artworks include “Jump for Joy,” a giant bouncy house composed of blow-up breasts and “Grope Mountain,” a rock wall featuring phalluses and vulvas. As visitors munch on tasty treats, they are invited into “The Tunnel of Love,” a maze that ultimately ends at the G-Spot, an erogenous zone in the vaginal canal discovered by Ernst Gräfenberg.
While this all may seem like fun and games, the exhibition also illustrates earnest cultural ideas. Here, the artists worked closely with Professor Vanessa Toulmin, the Director if the UK National Fairground Archive, to illustrate the historical associations between traveling fairgrounds and sexuality. Toulmin proposes that at the apex of the industrial revolution of the mid-19th century, carnivals began to emerge as sites for “immoral” behavior.
The St. Bartholomew fair, she notes, was singled out for its sensuous—and overtly erotic— atmosphere. In this uncanny universe of play and mischief, the puritan ideals of the upper classes were tossed to the wayside. The fast-paced amusement rides were quite the novelty at that time, and dark tunnels and cars allowed for discreet caresses to pass between lovers. Some fairgrounds even charged admittance for burlesque and strip-tease shows. Bompas & Parr’s “Funland” certainly captures both the thrilling and the farcical aspects of the carnival scene. Simultaneously amusing and disturbing, the exhibit engages both the mind and the body. The show is currently on view and will run through Spring 2015. (via Design Boom)
The photographer Ingrid Berthon Moine is taken with testicles, both figuratively and physiologically; turning to the anatomically accurate statues of Classical Greece for her project Marbles, she focuses her lens on representations of the male sex organ. Isolated from the rest of the statues, the male sex organs take on new meanings, their textured curves wrought in stone with masterly precision.
The careful renderings of the genitalia reveal tender folds of skin; set against the aged and worn marble, the apparent softness is complicated by durability. Testicles, as a cultural symbol, retain these nuances; they are simultaneously representative of sexual vigor and unfaltering power, but they are also framed as a physical weakness, an immensely vulnerable organ. As Berthon Moine explains, the word itself gave rise to aggressive, powerful words like “detest, protest, or contest or […] testify.” But the artist was also inspired by the theory of the neuroscientist John Coates, who posited that the testosterone hormone played a role in the financial recession; these marble testicles hope to express both the powers and dangers that we assign to them.
In a world where artworks depicting naked women outnumber works by women artists in our most renowned art museums, Berthon Moine’s work serves to turn the male gaze in on itself. She explains that until recently, only women were made to feel aware of being watched, judged by their sexual allure. She sees this dynamic shifting to expose both genders to the gaze of others, and this series, uncomfortable to some and amusing to others, is a part of that transition. (via Hyperallergic)