Friday 1 August 2014


The Guardian report carried the eye-catching headline starting with the provocative words:‘Vagina selfie . . . ’ - see below. What was this? The story was that a Japanese artist had been arrested for E-mailing a digital template of her genitalia to her supporters. One supposes that this was all in the interest of art rather than anything else. The report went on to tell more of this artist’s work and referred to her Decoman “Decorated Vagina” series of sculptures – see:  Everything this artist was involved in seemed to be associated with the vagina: hers. Is this a fixation?

The image that came with this Guardian report illustrated: the artist, legs apart, being personally digitised; the image of the 3D model; and the artist in what she calls her ‘vagina kayak.’ This is a kayak that has been fitted with her digital model scaled up and used as a shroud, the cover around the person sitting in the kayak: herself - me and my vagina. It seems that the artist has recognised a match in the general form of the vagina and that of the kayak, and has ‘creatively’ pieced these together - perhaps for pure provocation, for there appears to be no other functional or aesthetic purpose. Given that vagina forms can be so readily adapted, it is probably only a matter of time for ‘Vagina Architecture’ to appear as a part of the growing fashion in this indulgence with the female body part that art has nearly always concealed - such is its characteristic: see Kenneth Clark’s The Nude – A Study of Ideal Art  Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1960.

Vaginal art seems to be catching on - see links below. There is the egg-laying vagina ‘art’ performance, and the vaginal knitting show. The first act hardly needs any explanation apart from that needed in reponding to the query on the intent; the latter does require some clarification on both the physical facts of the situation and the actual objective. This special form of knitting involves the artist placing a skein of wool in the vagina and sitting, knitting in an art gallery, making, if this is the right word, ‘performance art’ - menstruating or not. It appears that the outcome is more ‘interesting’ if carried out at the appropriate time of the month - see link below that provides a video explanation. Is this art or something more to do with a quirky exploration of biology, body parts and ‘brave’ boldness?

One is tempted to see these performances and sculptures as occasions and items that seek to catch headlines; to draw attention to themselves and the artist, and to alarm everyone else with their shock of difference, their social challenges: their cheek. The boast is that the aim is to demythologise the vagina that society conceals with little black boxes if the appropriate alignment of the appendages in the arrangement of the image cannot achieve concealment - see photograph below. Is such a crusade art? Is art a crusade? One might think of Goya’s art that sought to highlight the horrors of war; but this work was always more than a concerted campaign, even though it was. It displayed a raw but rich humanity and concern, as well as a savage inhumanity embodied in the pure skill of the hand. Hogarth's art can be referenced in the same way, but he was interested in social reform.

Art certainly does draw attention and alerts one to certain circumstances, even challenges our perceptions and understandings, but it has different beginnings; different intents beyond just these achievements. One might, by way of analogy, say that fresh bread has certain qualities and tastes, but aligning these qualities and tastes does not make fresh bread. One should ponder the origins of form in art. This was a title of a book by Herbert Read, (The Origins of Form in Art  Thames and Hudson, 1965), that looked at where and how art arose. It did not come from any singular social zeal or a reforming self-interest, even though art can indeed participate in this situational outcome.

In the context of this different art form, the possibility of a Vaginal Architecture does not seem such a strange thing to predict. Just look at the striking random forms of Gehry and Hadid et al. Making a building out of a vagina form would be simple. Consider the twists and folds in the Glasgow Transport Museum. Creating a genital structure would be somewhat easy to accomplish; well feasible. The kayak conversion suggests an architectural possibility and concentrates the objective.

Glasgow Transport Museum

If we want to continue with these games, then fine. But let’s not insist on this crude crusade being art. The skilful rewinding of the skein to feed from the centre for vaginal art – will it catch on? – is an interesting rearrangement of wool, but the justifications for these participatory dramas seem to indulge in the silencing trick that places a social burden on those who doubt or protest – see  One is forced to maintain silence and acquiesce by default, creating a self-fulfilling claim for the work as great art through embarrassment, its certainty and self-promotion, and one’s hesitant reservation. One is thrown into the unknown, as with great art; but creating an unknown, or stimulating one, does not create great art – or fresh bread.

We need to be more honest with our ambitions, and ourselves, and seek substance in the mystery of qualities, and the qualities of mystery rather than in the drama of explicit impertinence and difference that is self-consciously rationalised as something ‘meaningful’ by imposition.

Al Wakrah stadium, Qatar

Well, it seems that one can forget these ponderings: just Google ‘Vaginal Architecture’ and one will discover it has already happened, but maybe not so self-consciously or with such a determined zeal! Zaha Hadid’s Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar - see:  - has been singled out for its vaginal imagery. Has the Glasgow Transport Museum its roots in something uniquely female too?

Where to from here? Penis Architecture? Well, it is more than funny that this gets mentioned. The high-rise form has always held this association, like streamlined cars and cigars, (Bill Clinton), but Penis Architecture has become more explicit beyond mere metaphor and analogy, as penis plan:

. . . and elevation:

. . . and the humorist extends the concepts :

Here one is reminded of Alan Fletcher’s profile line drawing of the scissors he borrowed from his young, female assistant’s desk: (In The Art of Looking Sideways, Phaidon, London, p.387 - a masterpiece of graphic art publishing). The image had the same naive embarrassment as the child's drawing:

What might be next? Arse Architecture? Arse knitting? The Oxford French Dictionary puts a nice twist on the concept of ‘arse.’ It carries a small line drawing of a horse with a little arrow pointing to the point between its front legs, with the notation: ‘Ars.’

Have we really got things ‘arse about’ here in our ‘art’ today? We seem to have forgotten the necessity, integrity and rigour of the understanding in the statement of the British zoologist and classical scholar, Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, (1860 – 1948), that ‘the poem of an object is a diagram of forces,’ and fallen for the hope of things otherwise self-centred, bespoke, disconnected and randomly amorphous in exaggerated efforts to highlight ME and MY 'creative' brilliance with outrageously distorted, distracting, different entertainment - events that used to be a part of the freak show experience. Maybe we should consider such buildings as 'freak' architecture?

On vaginas in art, one has to mention the French artist Marcel Duchamp - famous for his urinal ‘Fountain;’ by ‘R. Mutt’ - who modelled a plaster mass to fit the hand, shaped to give the appearance that it had been impressed into the vagina. The artist pressed this into the hand of a colleague as a good-bye gesture. The concept carries the same ironic humour as the urinal.

The French seem to always have been relaxed about vaginas. Gustave Corbet’s memorable painting in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris in L'Origine du monde is one of the most explicit renderings of the female genitalia in western art. Traditional Japanese wood block art was equally clear in its expression too, all in the beautiful, precise line-work demanded by this technique.

L'Origine du monde


Vagina selfie for 3D printers lands Japanese artist in trouble
Megumi Igarashi, aka Rokudenashiko, arrested for emailing digital template of her genitalia to supporters of her art
Justin McCurry in Tokyo, Wednesday 16 July 2014 13.28AEST

Megumi Igarashi and the vagina kayak she had made. Photograph: /Megumi Igarashi
Last month it took more than 20 firefighters to free a US student who had become trapped inside a giant sculpture of a vagina in Germany. But genital art elicited a very different response in Japan this week, when police arrested an artist for distributing data that enables recipients to make 3D prints of her vagina.
The artist, who works under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko – which roughly translates as “good-for-nothing girl” – was arrested after emailing the data to 30 people who had answered a crowd-funding request for her recent artistic venture: a kayak inspired on her own genitalia she calls “pussy boat”, according to Brian Ashcraft at the gaming website Kotaku.
The artist, whose real name is Megumi Igarashi, was held in custody in Tokyo on suspicion of breaking Japanese obscenity laws. Media reports said Igarashi, 42, denied the allegations. She pointed out that had not sent images of her vagina in return for money and did not recognise the scanned 3D data as obscene.
Kyodo quoted unnamed police sources as saying Igarashi had collected about 1m yen in exchange for the data.
While Igarashi's art has a fun-loving and cheeky theme, her situation is serious as far as the law is concerned: if convicted she could receive up to two years in jail or a fine of as much as 2.5 million yen (£14,300/US$24,500), according to her lawyer.
Commentators have pointed out the hypocrisy of her arrest, which comes soon after Japanese authorities resisted pressure to ban pornographic images of children in manga comics and animated films.
The activist Minori Kitahara said police raided Igarashi's office and seized 20 of her artworks. "Japan is still a society where those who try to express women's sexuality are suppressed, while men's sexuality is overly tolerated," she said.
Igarashi has made a name for herself with her Decoman “Decorated Vagina” series of sculptures. The titles of the works incorporate the word “man”, from manko, the Japanese for vagina. Igarashi said she was once asked not to use the word Decoman during a TV appearance.
Because female genitalia were “overly hidden” in Japanese society, “I did not know what a pussy should look like,” she said in an online post. “I thought it was just funny to decorate my [moulded] pussy and make it a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how people get upset to see my works or even to hear me say manko.”
One of the works, described as a “vaginal battle scene”, shows a group of toy soldiers taking cover in an unmistakeably pudic crevice; another diorama titled Fukushiman – a “taboo on top of taboo” – shows workers at the wreckedFukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in similar surroundings.
She has also designed iPhone covers and recently posted an image of Gundaman, a figurine based on the popular anime character Gundam, sporting an oversized vagina, according to the Japanese art and design website Spoon & Tamago.
Igarashi has said she is on a mission to “demystify” female genitalia in Japan, a country where thousands flock to an officially sanctioned annual penis festival in Kawasaki every April.

Her work DECO-MAN is an art of Vagina

See also:

World News
Japanese vagina selfie artist vows legal battle against obscenity charges
Megumi Igarashi says she is outraged after being arrested for sending 3D printer data of her scanned vagina to her fans

The artist who lays eggs with her vagina – or why performance art is so silly
Milo Moiré gives birth to her PlopEgg paintings naked. It's a long way from the groundbreaking power of performance art pioneers ... and gives those who satirise the art world yet another target

and 'vaginal knitting' - one has to see the video to understand:

'The reaction to my vaginal knitting shows society is still telling a woman what to do with her body'

More 'vagina architecture'?

a selection from Google images

29th February 2016
ABC News

10 March 2017
And more vagina art: see -

The art of wearing your vagina around your neck!

10 Feb 2019

26 February 2019

13 MARCH 2019
For yet another twist on vulva/vagina art see:
The report highlights the importance of self-expression in ‘art’ today.

27 JUNE 2021
Yet another vulva/vagina text:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.