Male Nude Removed from Tokyo Exhibition

Laurie says:

I’m back. It’s nice not to be in 110 degree weather. I was in Las Vegas for a show with my jewelry.

[The photo at the end of this blog is not suitable for most office viewing]

I received the email below from Fukazawa Junko, who curated the Tokyo exhibition that ended June 29th. I’ve made some small changes in it for language clarity

I thank you for your cooperation in exhibiting your works.

Akiko Yamasaki, a young feminist art historian, wrote about the exhibition in her blog and how important it was to have it exhibited in the public women’s center .

On the fifth day of the exhibition, the officer of Minato ward government asked us to change the photo from one with a penis to one without full frontal nudity. The photo is grandfather and grandson on the sofa. I’m very sorry, but I wanted to continue the exhibition, so I displayed another photo. The presentation of penis is prohibited in the public space in Japanese law, as you know.

I am very pleased that many people saw and dialogged with your works. Some of them want to talk more about your works, so we are going to have a session for them in a few weeks.

I’ve been aware of the Japanese law prohibiting the showing of the penis for years, but this is the first time I’ve had a portrait with a penis taken down. I have had two exhibitions of Familiar Men there, one in a gallery and one in a museum. I think the difference is that the Minato Center is a government space. Women’s Centers in Japan are sponsored by the government. They are in my experience large, attractive buildings with lots of programs and classes (some feminist, some not).

Junko had warned me beforehand that this was an issue, so under the circumstances I was happy the photo was exhibited for 5 days.

I was glad that the exhibition was in a Woman’s Center. I’ve given talks at Womens Centers in Japan but this is my first show in one. Many people saw the work who would not have seen it in a museum or gallery. Viewing the portraits in the context of “health and body image” created a lot of intense discussion that I really like. I’m sorry that I don’t have the Japanese to read Akiko Yamasaki’s blog. Hopefully Motomi rudolf, who works with me, will be able to translate it for me.

This is the photo of David and his grandfather Ray that was removed.

David and his grandfather Ray

2 thoughts on “Male Nude Removed from Tokyo Exhibition

  1. I hadn’t heard about the law and most of what I know about Japan is from some time ago, but on one hand this is consistent with the censoring of pin up magazines by inking in a little black square over each genital area (don’t know if they still do that anymore). And yet Laurie’s image almost seems to be acceptable in context of the well-accepted mixed-sex family nudity at hot baths in Japan. I guess bathing is regarded as a private space, while images displayed in a magazine or exhibition are considered a public space.

    Japan is a very compartmentalized society–and so is the United States in it’s own way. It’s interesting how differently societies divide their compartments on this issue.

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