Danish police backtrack on banning artist’s photos of naked, natural women

'The freedom to express oneself through art in Denmark, is now more free than before.'

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Back in December we reported on photographer Mathilde Grafström’s Female Beauty, a series designed to “show young women that they are more beautiful than they think” but banned from public exhibition in Copenhagen for apparently being “obscene”.

Grafström, who said her pictures show nothing that you wouldn’t see when you change clothes at swimming pool, challenged the appraisal of them as “offensive” and, after her story went worldwide, has now received a response.

Claus Pedersen, legal chief consultant of Copenhagen Police, confirmed that the exhibition had been restricted under Penal Code 232 - which deals with material that ‘violates decency and causes public outrage’ and can carry a fine or imprisonment of up to four years - and though the appraisal ultimately must be assessed by a court, he suggested that a lighter approach to such images was required.

“We have a law for which the range of offences - probably with a certain conservatism - changes in line with social developments,” he wrote in a letter. 

“Assessment of  imagery has traditionally been focused on whether the images showed genitals, but those with an artistic, scientific or educational value, however, could lead to a more favourable one."

Though she is irked by the police’s vagueness in its approach to photography depicting nudes, Grafström is pleased with the decision.

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“The freedom to express oneself through art in Denmark, is now more free than before and I'm glad that my pictures of natural, naked bodies are no longer forbidden for exhibition in public spaces,” she told Independent.co.uk.

“The police has changed course and does no longer evaluate my pictures to be illegal, just doubtful, which is a great relief for me and I will again apply to the Copenhagen Municipality for permission to do the show. 

“It is exciting to see if it will be realised this time."

Grafström's photography is in a similar vein to that of Erica Simone, who went naked in New York to challenge the idea of the naked body as merely a sexual object.

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