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‘Vagina artist’ Igarashi loses obscenity case over 3-D data but is acquitted over pop art replicas

by

Staff Writer

An artist was fined ¥400,000 for obscenity on Monday after distributing 3-D printer data of her genitals and said she plans to appeal the ruling.

Megumi Igarashi, 44, known by her pseudonym Rokudenashiko (Good-for-Nothing Girl) or — more bluntly — the “vagina artist,” was convicted of distributing the data over the Internet in October 2013 and March 2014.

She said she will appeal the Tokyo District Court ruling.

The data allows users to create precise replicas of her genitals. The data contained such detail that the court judged it to comprise an obscene object as defined by law.

The ruling added, the stunt’s artistic merit was too low to balance out its sexually titillating nature.

But the court acquitted Igarashi of a separate charge of “displaying obscene materials publicly,” namely exhibiting a vagina-shaped plaster artwork in a Tokyo sex shop in July 2014, because the item was made with colored materials and did not resemble a real vagina.

Prosecutors sought a fine of ¥800,000 for the obscenity charges.

In the trial, Igarashi maintained her innocence, calling her art a form of expression that was not intended to cause sexual arousal.

She told reporters after the ruling she was “happy” that the ruling partly acknowledged her artworks to be a form of pop art, as the public has often misunderstood her work.

However, she expressed disappointment at not being exonerated by the court.

“The ruling explained my artwork was OK because it didn’t look like real female genitals,” she told a news conference. “It still says genitalia are obscene objects.”

She said she plans to appeal to a higher court as she believes she is innocent.

A feminist and manga artist, Igarashi claims her artwork is intended to challenge taboos in Japan, where the vagina is considered obscene.

Igarashi was initially charged in July 2014 for distributing the 3-D data to donors of at least ¥3,000 to a crowd-funding project aimed at raising cash to produce a kayak modeled on her genitals.

She was released days later but was arrested in December that year for obscenity.

In April, Igarashi announced that she is engaged to be married to British musician Mike Scott, a singer and guitarist. She said she would move to Ireland, where Scott lives.

A book by Igarashi in English, titled “What is Obscenity?,” is available in U.S. and Canadian stores from Tuesday.