In Nyköping, Sweden, a gorgeous, colorful piece of art depicting a smiling vagina is painted on the wall of a local junior high school. And, like anything having to do with depictions of the female anatomy, it’s causing a controversy.
Local authorities have apparently decided to paint over the artwork by well-known graffiti and mural artist Carolina Falkholt. Which is weird, because the artwork was commissioned back in the fall, and people must have been aware that Falkholt is known for depictions of vaginas and ovaries in her public art. Here’s a tip, Nyköping officials: If you don’t want a vagina on the wall of your school, don’t ask an artist who frequently paints vaginas to do a mural in your school.
Anyway, school officials have backed off a bit, saying they’re willing to engage in dialogue about the mural and the principal of the school, Harke Steenbergen, spoke out in favor of keeping the mural. He said:
“I see many pedagogic advantages to having her art in the school.”
And a local Swedish politician says he wants to keep it up because it might get kids excited about their school (LOL):
“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!”
My main reaction to this brouhaha is “Wow, this would never ever ever in a million trillion years happen in the US.” Like, the chances of Kris Jenner giving up her fame are better than the chances of mural showing a vagina appearing on the the wall of a school that teenagers attend. The controversy, though? That’s totally American.
I think the piece of art is really stunning and striking. Maybe it’s my can’t-be-fully-tamped-down-no-matter-how-feminist-I-say-I-am Puritanical Americanness, but I can kinda see how it might not be appropriate for a school that caters to thirteen to fifteen-year-olds, playful as it is. But then part of me is like, it’s a statement on the power of the female body and female sexuality. And when better for students to see that than when they’re in their teen years?
Photo: Patrick Ljungman via Carolina Falkholt’s Facebook page