Letter of Protest to the Mori Art Museum
We object in the strongest of terms to the decision of the Mori Art Museum to host an exhibition by Makoto Aida, which includes the ‘Dog’ series. We lodge our protest against the Mori Art Museum in the following statement.
The underage girls in the ‘Dog’ series are depicted completely naked with their limbs amputated. Their arms are amputated above the wrist, and their legs above the knee. The stumps of the girls’ limbs are bandaged, and they wear dog collars around their necks. They are pictured sitting on all fours, and the works are bluntly titled ‘Dog’. Furthermore, the girls are shown smiling in the pictures in a way that suggests their enjoyment of sexual torture, or a belief that such treatment suits them. In addition to the ‘Dog’ series, the exhibition includes a number of other similar works, including a painting of a girl having her body used and cooked as food and a painting in which a large number of women and girls are crushed into a juicer.
In the first instance, these works are products of child pornography. They are products of child sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. The current Japanese child pornography law does not ban graphic depictions of child sexual exploitation, but these paintings would be deemed illegal under the child pornography laws of major western countries, including Canada, the EU, and Australia. It is likely that they will also become illegal under Japanese law in the future. We therefore regret the decision of the Mori Art Museum to so recklessly decide to host this exhibition, and to so actively contribute to the sexual exploitation of children.
In the second instance, the ‘Dog’ series treats women and girls as less than human, as sexual playthings and sexed animals. The paintings treat women as ‘dogs’ by depicting them fully naked with amputated limbs, and with collars around their necks. The women are shown in the most exposed, violent, and sexually servile way possible. The paintings graphically depict a form of sexual violence, and comprise a gross act of sexual discrimination that significantly injures the dignity of all women. We imagine that the artist and the Mori Art Museum think this exhibition poses a challenge to social convention and public authority, but in reality the exhibition expresses values that wholly endorse the socially dominant view that women and girls exist mostly for the purpose of sexual servitude. In fact, the exhibition promotes this view. Far from posing a challenge to authority, the exhibition is an example of the open and brazen exercise of social authority.
In the third instance, the exhibition is an example of discrimination and contempt for amputees and other people with a disability. We wonder whether the Mori Art Museum would similarly endorse pictures of people who had lost limbs, or been born with disabled limbs, fully naked and depicted as ‘dogs’? How would such pictures pose a challenge to reigning orthodoxy or the halls of power? Has the Mori Art Museum considered just how shocked and emotionally traumatized people with a disability might be seeing the current exhibition?
In the fourth instance, in its position as a respected public institution, the Mori Art Museum sends a strong message through hosting the current exhibition. The Museum, in proudly hosting the exhibition, advertising it, and admitting numerous visitors to see it, gives its approval to works that are doubly and triply discriminatory and violent. The Museum’s hosting of the exhibition actively normalizes such discrimination and violence, and actively promotes the sexual exploitation of girls, violence against women, and discrimination and contempt for people with a disability. We wonder whether the Mori Art Museum imagines it would be similarly possible for an American gallery to hold an exhibition in which people of color were depicted amputated and clothed in the garb of slaves, and treated like ‘dogs’? Would it be possible for an American museum to proudly host such paintings in which the depicted people of color were shown smiling in affirmation of being treated this way? The current exhibition is precisely analogous to this example.
In the fifth instance, there are paintings in the exhibition in which girls’ genitals are clearly depicted. It is possible that they violate the provisions of the Japanese criminal code relating to the distribution and display of obscene materials. These works are exhibited in a separate ‘over 18’ room, but this doesn’t change at all the fact the Mori Art Museum currently makes them widely and publicly available. Furthermore, the other images including “The Great Member Fuji versus King Gidora” in which a young woman is crying while eaten alive and raped by a monster are openly displayed to visitors of all ages. It is therefore possible that the Mori Art Museum is in breach of the provisions of Japan’s youth protection ordinance. Adding to this, works including the ‘Dog’ series are pictured on the public web site of the Mori Art Museum, regardless of the fact that this means they are effectively available for viewing outside of the ‘over 18’ exhibition room, including by children.
For the six reasons listed above, we lodge our strongest protest against the decision of the Mori Art Museum to host the current exhibition, and call for the removal of works that injure the dignity of women. We intend to expend the utmost efforts in publicly exposing the stance of the Mori Art Museum in hosting this exhibition, and therefore promoting child pornography, endorsing sexual discrimination and sexual violence, and advocating contempt and discrimination against people with a disability.
We therefore request a two-hour meeting with the Mori Art Museum some time in late January or early February to directly hear your views. We request that this meeting be arranged as a matter of urgency, and we will make ourselves available at any time and place convenient to you. We eagerly await your reply.
25 January 2013
People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence（PAPS）