I met my friend the artist Ryoko Suzuki when I was in Hokkaido working on Women of Japan. Her portrait and text are part of the project.
She is one of the women who will be exhibiting her work at a show in Hong Kong in support of the artist Megumi Igarashi (also known as Rokudenashiko) who was arrested in 2014 for distributing 3D scanning data of her vagina on an internet crowdfunding site. She was arrested under the Japanese Obscenity Laws, released after a few days, then arrested again and held in police custody for 23 days in December 2014.
The male genitals can be seen sometimes at traditional Japanese festivals, the ‘secret treasure’ museums and in some contemporary art works. Rokudenashiko believes that the vagina is overly hidden compared to the penis. She started working on this theme because she wants to liberate women from thinking of their vaginas as a dirty image. Her intention is to liberate women to become more open and uninhabited over their vaginas, and thus, equalize males and females. Her trial started in April 2015. She and a group of attorneys denied obscenity charges and argued censorship of artistic expression and Japan’s double standards. Pornographic cartoons are numerous in Japan, why were her works of arts selected for punishment?
… Feminist art is usually a rare category of art in Asia, and not many exhibitions on the theme have taken place in the past. We would like to align the works within a feminist context in Hong Kong and Japan, and consider whether the artists think they are feminists or not. Feminism is not a unified ideology, and several groups have different ideas. The exhibition includes different concepts of feminism, from different points of view; from ‘Lipstick Feminism’ (Robot, Sputniko!) to the more classical ideal of liberating woman from oppression (Suzuki, Man, Rokudenashiko).
Additionally, hold[ing] a feminist exhibition featuring relatively young artists in Asia is important as not many shows have had this focus.
… We think it is important to let people know what is happening in Japan. Not only with Rokudenshiko, but also those LGBT artists in Japan who have been warned or arrested under the Obscenity Laws in the past three years. People in Hong Kong are aware of freedom of artistic expression and we believe that it is significant to realize this project in Hong Kong, a hub in Asia and also a location that is highly aware of, even threatened by, authoritarian politics.
… Overall, we attempt to 1: revisit feminist art and works that directly refer to genitalia, 2: raise the issue of censorship through the case of Rokudenashiko, and 3: support Megumi Igarashi (the artist known as Rokudenashiko), who was arrested for creating artwork representing her vagina, and distributing 3D data of her vagina on the internet.
We support Rokudenashiko by exhibiting her works and selling her ‘Sof Vi Manko Chan’ character, and donating the proceeds to the cost of her trial.
We have a long history of this same kind of censorship in this country. My friend Tee Corinne’s Cunt Coloring Book was denounced on the floor of the Senate.
We rarely ask folks to give to a crowd-funding site, but this is really important and they need the resources to make this exhibition happen. You can help them at indiegogo.