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Work / Publication

1960s Thai erotic magazines show creativity in their censorship

Over the past couple of years, French visual artist Tiane Doan Na Champassak has grown quite the collection of erotic magazines – Thai ones to be exact – building a compendium of publication dating from the 1960s and 70s.

At this time, nudity was frowned upon in Thailand, a concept strange for an erotic magazine but maybe a glimpse is just enough? However, going through his collection the artist noticed that the intricate detail of censorship over a female’s intimate parts was applied creatively, leading to the creation of his recent book published by RVB books, aptly titled Censored.

The book’s release comes years after the Free the Nipple campaign started in 2013, followed by Lina Esco’s feature film on the subject in 2014. But still images of nipples on display — particularly on women — is considered inappropriate on social media channels such as Instagram. It feels absurd that Tiane’s project relates to how we are still arguing about this issue over 50 years since the magazines featured in his publication were made.

Sexuality has largely been at the forefront of Tiane’s work during his career with his biography reading: “The depiction of sexuality is an enduring theme in his practice in which he explores the relation between his own photographic production and appropriated images seen by the filters of anonymity and censorship.” Censored brings this theme into a compendium, focusing on magazine cuttings where his other works have included sources from “the Internet and personal memorabilia”.

Throughout the book, collaged squares from his 4000 plus collection, are neatly presented, cut from the full image, and whittled down to the best of the best. Stars, musical notes, silhouetted underwear, flowers perfectly placed circles and even an eye in one image each cover up the then-banned material, reaching a creative climax in mixing racy images and graphic symbols.

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored

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Tiane Doan Na Champassak: Censored