The Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, who was charged for obscenity while showcasing her plans to build a kayak shaped like her vagina has pleaded not guilty in a Tokyo court on Wednesday.
The case has provoked a reaction from the artist community accusing the authorities of heavy-handed censorship . The artist has stated that she ‘had done nothing wrong’ in distributing the 3D printer code, with the object of producing the artwork. Tokyo police arrested her again in December, on three counts of distributing “obscene” data — namely CD-ROMs containing computer code for a 3D printer that would allow users to make copies of the vagina-shaped kayak. “I am innocent because neither the data for female genitals nor my art works shaped like female genitals are obscene,” she told judges at Tokyo District Court.
Igarashi was first arrested in July, but was freed several days later following a legal appeal and after thousands of people signed a petition demanding her release.
If the artist is convicted for distributing or possessing obscene materials for the purpose of selling, she could face up to two years in jail and/or a fine of as much as 2.5 million yen ($21,000). Although Japan has a rich history of pornography rigid obscenity laws ban the depiction of actual genitalia, which is usually pixellated or blacked out.