As we at MASSIVE prepare for Japanese manko artist Rokudenashiko’s North American tour, the possibility that she will be prevented from entering Canada or the US because of her trial status is one we can’t bear to think about.
Rokudenashiko has been fighting obscenity charges since July of 2014 when the Tokyo Police arrested her for distribution of obscenity. The obscenity in question was an open source vector file of her vagina, meant as a reward to those who contributed to the crowdfunding campaign for her now world-famous vagina-shaped kayak. Her verdict is expected May 9th, just days before she’ll fly from Japan to Toronto to appear as a Featured Guest at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (May 14-16). She’ll then celebrate the launch of her book What is Obscenity in New York City with a reading at the Asian American Writers Workshop alongside translator/MASSIVE owner Anne Ishii, and graphic memoirist MariNaomi (May 18th). The Eyebeam Institute will then host her on a panel entitled “Open Source Art as Feminist Resistance” (May 19th), and plans are in the works for the self-proclaimed “good for nothing artist” to lead a deco-man workshop where artists will mold and decorate their own mankos!
None of this will be possible, however, unless Rokudenashiko is guaranteed the right to travel despite having been arrested, tried, and possibly (yet hopefully not) convicted of obscenity. We want to remind the public that the crimes in question involve work championing and advocating for the visibility and respect of vaginas and art created by women.
In the hopes of securing safe passage, MASSIVE implores the powers that be —the American Ambassador to Japan, the Canadian Consulate, and their respective immigration departments—to recognize and acknowledge Rokudenashiko’s false obstacle to freely travel into North America. We ask alongside and on behalf of PEN America, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Eyebeam Institute, Dr. Rebecca Sullivan of The University of Calgary’s Women’s Studies Program, and the National Coalition Against Censorship, to protect her rights as an artist. We’ve posted the letters here in support of Rokudenashiko and to recognize the gracious organizations standing up for the freedom of expression and FREE MANKO everywhere.