MADRID – A Spanish businessman has bought a statue symbolizing women who worked in Japanese military brothels that was removed from an exhibition in Japan after organizers received threats over the piece.
The “Statue of a Girl Of Peace” symbolizes the “comfort women,” a euphemism referring to women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.
The work was removed after it attracted “terror threats” via telephone and email as soon as it went on display this month at the Aichi Triennale art exhibition, Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura told a news conference earlier this month.
Businessman Tatxo Benet said he plans to display the work, which depicts a young woman wearing a traditional Korean dress sitting on one of two wooden chairs, in a “freedom museum” he plans to open in Barcelona as early as next year.
Benet, founder of soccer rights company Imagina (Mediapro), said the museum would exhibit around 60 pieces of artwork that have been censored in different parts of the world.
“A year and half ago I began buying artwork (censored) around the world for different reasons, whether political, ethical, moral or sexual,” Benet said in a telephone interview.
After reading about the furore caused by the statue in Japan, he bought it last week, he said.
“I think I have enough material for a permanent exhibition center and perhaps even a documentation and archive center about censorship in the art world,” Benet said.
His collection includes a Lego brick portrait by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, a satirical painting of U.S. President Donald Trump by Illma Gore and a video by David Wojnarowicz censored by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
From Spain, the exhibit will include a set of pictures of jailed Catalan separatist leaders that was removed from Madrid’s ARCO art fair last year.
Organizer Ifema said at the time that the controversy surrounding the pictures was hurting the visibility of other art works, an explanation that led to complaints from separatist political parties and the left-wing Podemos party.
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