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Singapore: Two sex toys removed from exhibition

16 March 2016

loo zihan exhibit
The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in Singapore removed two sex toys from artist Loo Zihan’s art installation entitled ‘Queer Objects: An Archive for the Future’, reported The Straits Times on 16 February 2016.

The artist said that originally four items were going to be removed from his 81-object installation, but in the end only two were removed because “the institute was concerned” they were breaking a penal code that prohibits the display of obscene materials.

ICA director Bala Starr said that the two sex toys “could potentially be considered offensive to some members of the public” and discussed their removal with the artist.

Zihan said he hopes to continue the discussion on the definition of obscenity for art, and that curators and artists need to be more clear about the implications of how art is made and exhibited in the country.

The two objects have now been replaced by black vinyl stickers and the exhibition guide now states that only 79 objects are on display. The third item has been put back on display and the fourth item, a calendar featuring a nude male photo without showing any genitalia, which was flipped to a different month, has now been flipped back.

Zihan’s Queer Objects installation features objects on loan from both homosexual and heterosexual individuals, including perfume bottles and torch lights used at ‘Pink Dot’, an annual LGBT event that takes place in Singapore. The objects are presented without context to allow “viewers to construct their own narratives for the objects based on their individual experiences”.

The installation is part of an exhibition featuring six artists that addresses the queer experience.

LGBT and same-sex issues are sensitive in Singapore, especially in the arts sector, including ongoing debates on whether state funding should be used for art works deemed “offensive”.


Photo is a screen grab from the artist’s website promoting the exhibition

Sources

» The Straits Times – 16 February 2016:
Sex objects removed from art show

Related information

» Artsfreedom.org – 1 December 2015:
Singapore: Arts council to withdraw funding of ‘offensive arts’, says chairman

» Artsfreedom.org – 30 November 2015:
Singapore: Petition launched to ban singer from performing

» Artsfreedom.org – 26 June 2014:
Singapore: Censorship of pop star A-mei condemned by fans

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