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The Power of the Civic Statue.

Jan. 6, 2020


Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, Statue of a Girl of Peace (2011). Courtesy of the artists.

Yet again the power of a simple statue has made its mark. There was a political furore over the showing of a statue commemorating the so called "Comfort Women" in Japan. These women were actually enforced sex slaves of the Japanese forces, still uncompensated for thier ordeals.  

'Three days after the 2019 Aichi Triennale kicked off in Japan, an exhibition at a museum in Nagoya was shut down after organizers received dozens of threats... over the inclusion of a statue of a “comfort woman,” a Korean woman who was forced to serve as a prostitute, or ianfu, in Japanese brothels during World War II. The subject remains highly controversial in Japan and has been a source of tension between the country and South Korea, which claims that Japan needs to do more to compensate the descendants of the victims of sexual slavery.'

When objections to the inclusion of this statue were raised other Triennieal Artists withdrew their work in solidarity "85 of the nearly 100 participating artists issued a statement requesting that the show be reopened under proper security measures. Ten artists, including Pedro Reyes and Tania Bruguera, also demanded that their own works be removed from the triennial in solidarity with the censored sculptors. A Spanish collector who is creating a permanent home for art that has been censored just made his latest high-profile acquisition. Tatxo Benet bought the sculpture censored from Japan’s Aichi Triennale earlier this month. Ironically, the piece was removed from an exhibition about censored art." The sculpture, which has caused controversy in the past, is now destined for Benet’s planned “freedom museum” in Barcelona, a hub for contemporary art that has been banned or suppressed in countries around the world.

Never doubt the lasting political power of the civic statue.