Artist Megumi Igarashi outside court in Tokyo, demonstrating the correct attitude to being convicted and fined for distributing one’s own vagina. Photo by Kazuhiro Nogi for AFP.
I seem to be mainly posting about genitals recently, but whatever. Agence France-Presse reports that Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi has just been fined ¥400,000 (about £2,500, €3.200 or $3,700) for crowdfunding a project to make a kayak based on a 3D scan of her vagina, said scan being made available to supporters as a perk. Yes, really. The only thing more (unwittingly) absurd than her (knowingly absurd) project? She was arrested for it, and the Japanese authorities have wasted taxpayers’ money in prosecuting her, then arrested her again for making plaster models and giving away vagina-data CDs. She’s going to appeal the sentence.
“My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal, which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina… Yes, they don’t like hearing it and find it difficult to say whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson.”
It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that somebody has it in for her, or at least that she got somebody in particular’s knickers in a twist, because although depictions of genitalia are technically (and stupidly) illegal in Japan the country is absolutely awash in traditional images of genitalia, not to mention good, bad and ugly pornography addressing every sexual practice, fetish and kink known to humanity and a few unknown to pretty much everybody apart from the Japanese. Why the authorities are picking on Igarashi in particular is a mystery… Especially when meanwhile in Kawasaki, among other places, this is happening:
かなまら祭り Kanamara Matsuri, ‘Festival of the Steel Penis’, Kawasaki, Japan.
Kanamara Matsuri and its ilk, like Igarashi’s project, seem about as close to clean, good-natured fun as you can get provided you’re not freaked out by completely normal things like human genitals.
An artist who painted a picture of Donald Trump nude, with a very small penis, possibly even a case of bona fide medically diagnosable micropenis, has been threatened with legal action via an “anonymous filing of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice” if she sells it to anyone.
U OK, Don?
It’s currently being exhibited in London, to the general edification and amusement of all. In the USA, meanwhile, the artist received thousands of death threats and galleries chickened out of hanging it because they feared violence from Trump’s thuggish, quasi-fascist supporters. QED.
Anyway, let’s all spite those imbeciles and Streisand Effect the shit out of the deranged, shit-for-brains, racist, rabble-rousing, hypocritical, incoherent, child-handed, small-dicked, candyfloss-haired, ignoramus psychopath megalomaniac robber-capitalist they idolise by looking at Illma Gore’s painting of Donald Trump and posting about it everywhere.
Make America Great Again by Illma Gore, 2016.
Artist threatened with lawsuits if she sells nude Donald Trump painting
OR: PEOPLE WHO THROW STONES SHOULDN’T LIVE IN GOVERNMENT HOUSES
The Louvre is shortly to open a new facility in Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel and looking like some kind of Logan’s Run shit that nobody who knew anything about art would ever want to show art in, as is usual for 21st century art silos. Talk about sterile. An outpost of the Guggenheim is also in progress, which will probably be equally austere, inhumane, architect-cool and ghastly. Having realised that they probably need some art or something– even if most of the walls are wonky or fifty meters from floor level– the gold-plated Arabic Louvre flagship store just announced the loan of 300 art works from French institutions. So let’s explore beautiful Abu Dhabi as it uses up the Earth’s precious resources to water lawns in the desert, let’s check out some of the art works being pimped out by the French to the jolly Emirs, and on the way we can have a wee think about what made the land of liberté, égalité, fraternité lose their damn minds and decide to have a gigantic art baby with the United Arab Emirates.
Leonardo da Vinci, ‘La Belle Ferronière’, 1495–99.
La Belle Ferronière will need to cover up that whorish hair and stop making insolent eye contact if she doesn’t want a taste of the whip.
I mean, does her husband, father or brother even know she’s out? According to Human Rights Watch and probably anybody else with eyes, ears and a rudimentary sense of right and wrong, the way Sharia is applied in the UAE systematically discriminates against women. Rape victims can face prison sentences of a year or more. Yes, you read that right. Victims of rape are prosecuted. Being raped is an “extramarital relation”, which is illegal. Women can’t marry without permission from a male guardian. It is illegal for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man; this is considered “fornication” and therefore worthy of corporal punishment. Kissing in public is also against the law, and can lead to deportation if you’re lucky enough to be a foreigner. Worse if you’re not. In the UAE, flogging (between 80 and 200 lashes) and stoning to death are legal punishments for offences including adultery, premarital sex and prostitution. Not just in theory, either; these barbaric punishments are regularly carried out. The UAE refuses to ratify the UN Convention on the elimination of torture.
Bonus fun fact: Apostasy (renouncing or denying religion, i.e. Islam) carries the death penalty too! Renouncing other religions is probably fine because only one religion is allowed anyway. Don’t worry, though; even if you’re a devout follower of Islam there are still many great opportunities for you to be abused, executed or unjustifiably detained in the UAE!
… and we didn’t speak out because we didn’t paint giant green phalluses. Last week there was another seizure of (very mildly) subversive art in Russia, following the Thought Police’s previous confiscation of a painting that depicted Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. As deadpan-hilariously described by Agence France-Presse, the painting was of “Putin playing with Medvedev’s hair. He is wearing a strappy nightie, while Medvedev has cleavage bursting out of a bra and is wearing skimpy knickers.” If I could take the liberty of correcting Agence France-Presse, though, I think this description must have been written by a straight man because busty as Medvedev is, it looks to me as if Putin is doing his hair. Ugh, men. Trust a man to sexualise a painting of two Russian politicians’ heads on the bodies of scantily clad young women when they’re just trying out hairstyles.
Personally I think Medvedev should have just thanked the artist for giving him such a fine pair, but there’s no pleasing some people. Ridiculous as the whole affair is, the grim outcome is the artist who painted it found himself unable to even go home because (luckily) he’d been tipped off that the police were waiting for him there. Konstantin Altunin fled via Denmark to France, where he is now seeking asylum. Dmi and Vlad’s girly hairdo session seems not to have been the real target, though, just collateral damage. Saint Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov (a leading enthusiast for the law against homosexual “promotion”, whatever that is) took exception to another painting in the same exhibition, of himself with a rainbow flag. Milonov complained to the police and even accompanied them on the raid, just to make sure nobody was in any doubt that he was using the police force as his own personal Praetorian Guard. “Insulting the authorities” in Russia is punishable by “only” a year in prison, but in the context of Pussy Riot being banged up for punk songs plus a rising tide of street fascism and tacitly state-sancitioned gay bashings and murders I don’t blame Altunin for getting out while he could.
Among the latest batch of doubleplusungood art to be disappeared is a tasteful canvas called Wrestling, by Vera Donskaya-Khilko. It was in an “erotic museum” and it features naked, tribal musclemen Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama battling it out in a HOT HOT HOT war involving numerous giant multicoloured penises. We can all relate to that situation, right? Propane tanks and things resembling haggises also have something to do with it. I’m not sure I’d call it erotic so much as profoundly silly, but hey Vera, whatever blows your skirt up.
A detail somewhat buried in most of the reports is that the erotic museum seems to be another project of the gentleman who owns the first gallery. Good old fashioned totalitarian tactics there; get them for one thing, then see how many other trumped-up offences you can hang on them at the same time. The manager of the first gallery was also detained, with no further reports about what happened to her. Getting the whole story clear is not helped by the fact that AFP itself seems to have subsequently censored and un-published its original release about the di(ck)sappearance of Donskaya-Khilko’s picture. See the painting below if you think your poor eyes can stand it.