Last week we covered the rather interesting story of a 42-year-old Japanese artist named Megumi Igarashi. Igarashi, as you have probably heard, was arrested on suspicion of selling and distributing 3D printable design files of her own genitals.
What she had been doing was selling design files which were 3D CAD models of her vagina, in order to raise money toward the creation of her next piece of art, a kayak in the shape of, you guessed it, her vagina. Yes, maybe a bit odd, but after all, this is art, a field in which individuals can express themselves in ways they feel strongly about. At least that’s the way it works here in the U.S.
Immediately following her arrest, the media latched onto her story. Within a couple of days, major news outlets throughout the world had covered the woman, who was now being referred to as the ‘Vagina Artist’. There was a tremendous outpouring of support, and over 22,000 signatures collected from individuals on Change.org. A majority of these supporters were from Japan themselves, and felt that her arrest was unfair, and that such actions taken by the police were an attack on free expression itself.
After spending a total of five days in jail, Igarashi was released after her legal team appealed her detention with a Tokyo court. Surprisingly the court upheld the appeal, ruling against the prosecution. This does not mean that charges will be dropped, or that Igarashi will not face further time in prison, but such actions are pretty rare within the Japanese court system, according to Igarashi’s attorney. If convicted of the charges that she is faced with, she could spend up to two years in prison, and face a fine of 2.5 million yen ($24,655).
Appearing at a press conference after her released, Igarashi expressed her confusion and frustration, stating, “I had no idea why I had to be arrested and detained because I don’t believe my vagina is anything obscene. I was determined I would never yield to police power.”
What will happen next is all up to the courts and Igarashi’s lawyers. This could end up being a landmark case for Japan, forcing the country to take a hard look at some of the possibly outdated laws having to do with sexuality, many unfairly skewed in favor of the male sex. On the other hand, routed deeply in tradition, these laws may continue to be upheld, and it is entirely possible that Igarashi will face additional time behind bars, and/or fines.
Either way, it’s fair to say that as an artist, her work, which involved 3D printing and scanning, has just received a major boost. It will be interesting to see if other young artists, both in Japan and across the rest of the world begin adopting approaches similar to hers, both in respects to the use of 3D technology, as well as the subject at hand.
How do you feel about this story? Should Igarashi be a free woman for good? Should Japan’s laws change? Let’s hear your thoughts in the 3D printed genital forum thread on 3DPB.com