Police in Sydney, Australia, repeatedly turned up at an art exhibition titled “101 Vagina” to make censorship suggestions to photographer Philip Werner.
The exhibition, based on Werner’s coffee table book, was on display in Redfern from June 27 to 30. Werner said police showed up four time at the 107 Projects Gallery.
“The first time they came they apparently weren’t acting on a complaint,” Werner said, “I don’t know why they came, maybe just to check it out. And they had a look around, realized that it wasn’t porn, realized that nothing was displayed in the windows, and left again. The second time they came, apparently they responded to a complaint that the artwork could be seen through the windows and they suggested, though not demanded … that the windows be covered.”
The next two times the police showed up they were asking the gallery to cover its glass door. The gallery complied with all their requests.
The City of Sydney council said they received two complaints about the obscenity of Werner’s work. It is unknown how many complaints the police received.
Werner told artsHub that if the people who complained would actually come inside and view the exhibition they might finally wrapped their head about the concept. “If they’d come in and actually read the stories and actually understood what it was about even they might have had a different take on it.”
In a NSFW promotional video, Werner said the work is about “… breaking down the taboo around vaginas and around genitalia and sexuality in general, and creating some kind of a counterpoint to the media which is very skewed towards certain body types … We’re all so different. What that means is that we’re also all normal.”
There were also complaints that the posters Werner created for the event were also obscene.
“Complaints like this show that we still have a long way to go in the removing of this taboo and in feeling comfortable with our bodies and our sexuality,” said Werner. “We were all conceived and born through the vagina, vaginas are sacred, not obscene!”