From the Series Overpaintings, Porn

Gerd Tinglum
2 min
Year: 1980


Gerd Tinglum:  

Here the most important thing isn’t the visual element. Sometimes I even think that the works are ugly. So what! They’re about something completely different. 

You’re listening to the artist Gerd Tinglum. When she was studying in Japan in the early 1980s, she made works about clichés in Japanese culture. Among other things, she investigated the Japanese sexual taboo about pubic hair, which resulted in Japanese porn magazines being censored by scraping away by hand any parts of photos where pubic hairs were visible. But for Tinglum, there was something else that really outraged her. 

Gerd Tinglum:  

Of course, what was dramatic about this ban on showing pubic hair was that it completely normalized the use of children in the porn industry. That really shocked me.  


Gerd Tinglum bought Japanese Playboy magazines at the newsstand, and then painted over the female models in the magazine. However, she left untouched the areas of paper where images of pubic hair had been scraped away. Each page was painted over in a different colour. 

Gerd Tinglum:  

These colours were very typical of Japan, in a way, and also of the nineteen-eighties. And to make it more Japanese, the colours were thinned with soy sauce. The works smell of soy sauce. 

This work, Porn, is one of the first Norwegian examples of conceptual painting – a painting where the visual element is generated by the idea behind the work. In this case, the Japanese taboo about pubic hair; the use of hand-scraping for censorship; and the porn industry’s exploitation of children and teenagers. What the artwork looks like is less important. As Gerd Tinglum says herself, it’s about something else.