A 42-year-old artist named Megumi Igarashi has been arrested in Tokyo for transmitting 3D models of her vagina which, under Japanese obscenity laws, is considered illegal. She sent the files via email to customers who bought copies on her website. She was raising money to build a vagina-shaped boat.
The files in question are, to be clear, fairly stylized representations of the female form, as is most of her art. Igarashi, who calls herself Rokudenashi-ko or “Good-For-Nothing Girl,” began making the prints when she decided to explore her own sexuality and the role of the female form in Japanese culture. While the male member is not as taboo in Japanese culture (NSFW example), the female genitals are all but hidden.
“As an artist, I focus on my own vagina as the motif for my art,” she wrote. “My work is against discriminative / ignorant treatment of the vagina.”
“I cannot understand why the police recognize the 3D data as obscene material,” she said.
“The problem here is she received money for it,” said our former Tokyo reporter, Serkan Toto. “If you sell any obscene images over the web, that’s illegal.”
Her fundraising goal was to raise money to build something called the Manko-boat or Manbo, essentially “pussy boat,” based on the shape of her vagina. Her charmingly innocuous pitch video appears below.
The question this arrest raises, obviously, is what can be defined as obscenity, especially in regard to self-scanning, 3D printing, and art. No rational person would mistake Igarashi’s work with pornography but, clearly, she is not dealing with rational people. In the end, control over her body and her image is solely hers and, I suspect, art will win out.