Artwork critical of child pornography still under preliminary investigation
Artist Ulla Karttunen’s installation which criticised child pornography and which had images of young girls and boys is still under preliminary investigation, while the artist herself has not been officially heard as yet.
On Friday, the Helsinki police confiscated some prints which were part of one particular artwork on display at the Karttunen show, entitled Ekstaattisia naisia ("Ecstatic Women"), in the Kluuvi Gallery. The images were seen as child pornography.
On Saturday, the artist pointed out to Helsingin Sanomat that the artwork actually criticised child pornography on the Internet.
The chain of events begun when a visitor to the Thursday opening of the show made a complaint both to the police and to the City Art Museum, which owns the gallery.
"After closer examination, I decided that there were reasons to launch a preliminary investigation into the matter", said Sampo Suomala, the officer in charge of the investigation.
"After seeing the artwork, I felt that the images could be in conflict with the Finnish law. Therefore I gathered together the management team which decided to remove the installation away from the exhibition space until it has been established whether or not the images are a violation against the Penal Code”, reported Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén, the director of the Helsinki City Art Museum.
The artwork entitled Neitsythuorakirkko (”Virgin-Whore Church”) was confiscated on the basis of Chapter 17, 19§ of the Penal Code.
According to this article, the penalty for possession of illegal images relating to the immoral depiction of a minor could be fines or a prison sentence of a maximum of one year.
The Helsinki police did not even allow the museum to photograph the installation before the confiscation, as by doing so the museum would have been guilty of possession of illegal images. Instead, the police documented the material themselves, Gallen-Kallela-Sirén noted.
As reported by Helsingin Sanomat yesterday, Ulla Karttunen pointed out that the accompanying texts indicated quite explicitly that the artwork was critical of child pornography and of the eroticising of children.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Police confiscate art exhibit as child pornography (18.2.2008)
Helsinki City Art Museum