When Japanese artist Jun Kitagawa was asked to create a “balloon art” exhibition in Shonandai Station to build excitement for Shonandai Fantasia, an annual festival held from October 27-28 in Fujisawa city, Kanagawa prefecture, he was a bit troubled.
Sure he could do another flower balloon art piece (see below)— that’s what most of his recent requests have been and probably how the organizers heard of him in the first place—but he was honestly a little sick of making flowers, and wouldst it be better to do something thematically relevant to the festival?
So when he heard the main attraction of Shonandai Fantasia is a parade featuring the Brazilian samba dancers of Asakusa Samba, Kitagawa knew exactly what he had to do: T&A.
“This will be my first erotic piece in awhile and I’m bursting with excitement,” writes Kitagawa on his blog before the exhibition. By the look of his concept sketch, he nailed it:
It’s a pretty clever idea: simply blowing up balloons gives them the roundness and luster needed to recreate the…signature physical features of Brazilian samba dancers, and adorning them in colorful lingerie and feathers is the perfect finishing touch. All together, the scene is probably pretty close to the image most men actually see while watching Brazilian dancers. Fantasia indeed.
The organizers of Shonandai Fantasia must have dug the idea as well because they gave Kitagawa the green light and, on October 7, he suspended 50 scantily-clad balloons from the ceiling above the ticket gate of Shonandai Station:
Photos of the exhibition began appearing on Twitter soon after, and most people seemed to get a rise out of the cheeky exhibit. At the same time, however, the local government office began receiving e-mails and phone calls from
prudeslocals complaining that the exhibition is “obscene” and demanded it be taken down immediately.
City official passed the complaints on to the festival organizers, who decided to take down the balloons on October 20. The exhibition was originally scheduled to run until October 28, the final day of the festival.
In response to the complaints, Kitagawa remarks: “Unsensational art is boring art. I don’t mind if there is criticism. However, the organizer’s decision to take down the exhibition is regrettable.”
Okay. We understand it would be a little embarrassing for parents if their children pointed up at the ceiling and said, “Look mommy! Those balloons are wearing boob tassels!” And we know Japanese parents are sensitive to this kind of thing.
But aren’t we being a little too sensational? After all, balloons in underwear should be the least of your worries when the actual dancers look like this:
If anyone needs me next weekend I’ll be in Fujisawa…
▼ More photos of the balloons
▼ Honey, close your eyes…
▼ Kitagawa’s flower balloon art