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Helsinki police tell naked model to cover up

Police in Helsinki have stepped in to censor an artwork that consists of a naked 83-year-old woman in a glass case. The woman will have to wear underwear during her Finnish sojourn—having gone completely nude in the seven countries the work toured before Finland.

Ceci n'est pas mon corps
The Ceci n'est pas mon corps installation in central Helsinki, as part of November's Baltic Circle arts festival. Image: Christopher Hewitt

The Baltic Circle contemporary theatre festival has been asked by police for a more modest version of its latest work. The exhibit should feature an 83-year-old, naked woman in a glass case, but Helsinki police have demanded that she cover up.

Dries Verhoeven’s work Ceci n’est pas mon corps deals with approaches to ageing. Tuomo Tuohimaa of Helsinki police says that families with children might have been offended by the nakedness on show in the work.

The original version has the older lady sitting naked in the glass case, wearing the mask of a younger woman. Organisers say Helsinki is the ninth city they’ve toured with the show, and the first in which nudity has been a problem.

They plan to appeal the police decision in the administrative court system.

In Helsinki for the unveiling of the exhibit, Verhoeven told Yle that he found the police's demand patronising. "A policemen decides for you that you would be provoked by an image that I think is more beautiful than provoking," he said.

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