TOKYO (TR) – The editorial departments of two weekly tabloids received warnings this week from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police over the publication this past summer of “obscene” images of works by British artist Jamie McCartney (@Plastercaster), reports the Sankei Shimbun (Nov. 21).
Shukan Post (Aug. 17-24) and Shukan Gendai (Sep. 15 and 22-29) published color and black-and-white pictures of McCartney’s “Great Wall of Vagina,” which comprises a series of rows of white plaster casts of the genitals of 400 women.
The peace preservation division of the metropolitan police on Wednesday warned both magazines, deeming the publication of the display a crime of “obscene public exhibition.”
Article 175 of Japan’s Penal Code prohibits the distribution, sale, or public display of obscene writings, pictures, or other materials. The code, however, does not define what specific type of content the law constitutes as being obscene.
“The images are exactly that of female genitalia,” said the police in a statement. “The degree of obscenity is high.”
Shukan Post also included half-naked photos of the female models used by McCartney as the basis for the pieces.
The department added that both tabloids are accessible by a large number of people, which means that their influence is large.
When asked about the warning, Shukan Post, which is published by Shogakukan, explained that since the works had been displayed in public at an art gallery in London (Hay Hill Gallery, between May 8 and June 2) it did not view the matter as problematic. “The artist indicated that he was expressing the beauty of the subject matter, and we printed the pictures of his works to report on his means of expression,” the magazine said.
The editorial department of Shuken Gendai, published by Kodansha, said, “We have no comment.”
The “Great Wall of Vagina” will appear at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, Italy between December 5 and March 10, 2013.