There’s nothing that brightens the day more than a smiling vagina. However, a street artist’s rendition of a smiling vagina painted on the staircase of a junior high school in Sweden has sparked a heated debate about censorship.
The mural is the work of Gothenburg-based graffiti and mural artist Carolina Falkholt, who features vaginas frequently in her work. But the placement of this particular vagina was deemed inappropriate by local politicians and last week, the municipal head of children, youth and cultural affairs in Nykoping announced that a decision had been made to paint over the mural.
A social media backlash ignited and Falkholt’s Facebook page was flooded with notes of support, including one fan who asked “Isn’t art supposed to stir emotion?” Other fans found it incomprehensible that a smiling vagina on school grounds could possibly be found offensive.
Over the weekend, local officials gave the vagina a stay of execution when they said they were willing to engage in debate as to whether the work was appropriate for a junior high school where 13 to 15-year-old students roam the campus.
Meanwhile, educators apparently have thrown their support behind the smiling vagina. The school’s principal said he would like to keep the mural. Harke Steenbergen, who will be running the Tessin school which opens this summer, said he likes the art and “its message,” adding “I see many pedagogic advantages to having her art in the school.” Pedagogic for those with weaker vocabularies means “educational.”
The teachers were backed up by local Left Party politician, Conny Jakobsson, who also happens to be the vice-chair on the culture and leisure committee in Nykoping. Jakobsson told a local paper, “Should we censor this just because it depicts female genitalia? Maybe the students think this is a really cool thing, that they have a school that dares!”
Strangely enough, nobody cited the smiling vagina as a possible break though method to counter the effects of gynophobia.
Photo: Facebook/Carolina Falkholt