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Last month it took more than 20 firefighters to free a US student who had become trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina in Germany. But genital art elicited a very different response in Japan this week, when police arrested an artist for distributing data that enables recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina.
The artist, who works under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko – which roughly translates as “good-for-nothing girl” – was arrested after emailing the data to 30 people who had answered a crowd-funding request for her recent artistic venture: a kayak inspired on her own genitalia she calls “Pussy boat”, according to Brian Ashcraft at the gaming website Kotaku.
The artist, whose real name is Megumi Igarashi, was being held in Tokyo on suspicion of breaking Japanese obscenity laws. Media reports said Igarashi, 42, denied the allegations. She pointed out that had not sent images of her vagina in return for money and did not recognise the scanned 3D data as obscene.
Kyodo quoted unnamed police sources as saying Igarashi had collected about 1m yen in exchange for the data.
Some commenters have pointed out the hypocrisy of her arrest, which comes soon after Japanese authorities resisted pressure to ban pornographic images of children in manga comics and animated films.
Igarashi has made a name for herself with her Decoman”Decorated Vagina” series of sculputeres. The titles of the works incorporate the word “man”, from manko, the Japanese for vagina. Igarashi said she was once asked not to use the word Decoman during a TV appearance.
Because female genitalia were “overly hidden” in Japanese society, “I did not knowwhat a pussy should look like” she said in an online post. “I thought it was just funny to decorate my [moulded] pussy and make it a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how people get upset to see my works or even to hear me say manko.”
One of the works, described as a “vaginal battle scene”, shows a group of toy soldiers taking cover in an unmistakeably pudic crevice; another diorama titled Fukushiman – a “taboo on top of taboo” – shows workers at the wreckedFukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in similar surroundings.
She has also designed iPhone covers and recently posted an image of Gundaman, a figurine based on the popular anime character Gundam, sporting oversized vagina, according to the Japanese art and design website Spoon & Tamago.
Igarashi has said she is on a mission to “demystify” female genitalia in Japan, a country where thousands flock to an officially sanctioned annual penis festival in Kawasaki every April.