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Case against woman in traffic sign street-art case sent to prosecutors

Kyodo

Police sent to prosecutors on Wednesday the case of a 43-year-old woman who allegedly tampered with road signs by putting stickers on them in the name of “art.”

Mami Urakawa, who lives in Florence, Italy, allegedly stuck a black, human-shaped seal on a road sign in Kyoto on Dec. 31, an act deemed hazardous by Kyoto prefectural police. She was arrested in January and later released.

Around 60 similar cases of tampering were confirmed in Kyoto and Osaka from late December through early January.

“I was aware that putting stickers would impair the function of the traffic signs, although it is recognized as art overseas,” Urakawa was quoted by the police as saying.

The police believe that French artist Clet Abraham, 48, was also involved in the cases, judging from security video camera footage and posts on his Facebook account.

No accidents took place as a result of their actions.

Abraham said that he wanted to prompt a discussion about art among those who saw the signs, admitting that what he had done was a violation of Japanese law.

“Street signs are not very loved, because they represent strict rules,” said Abraham, who has altered traffic signs across Europe, according to media reports.

“My work is not about transforming the sense of the street sign,” he said.

Instead he meant to “make street signs more interesting so that people appreciate the signs more,” he said.