Museum director forced to quit over nude act, ‘female’ punching bag

Fabric collage at the inaugural Feminnale which highlights female labour, violence against women. (Twitter pic/Bishkek Spotting)

BISHKEK: The director of Kyrgyzstan’s state art museum resigned on Monday after a feminist art exhibition that included female nudity riled conservatives in the majority Muslim country.

The ex-Soviet country’s culture ministry said Mira Djangaracheva resigned after the museum put on an exhibition themed on women’s economic freedom that prompted calls for her sacking.

The exhibition included a nude female body presented as a punchbag and opened with a nude performance by Danish artist Julie Savery which was intended to highlight the plight of sex workers.

Other exhibits allowed visitors to repeat chores regularly performed by Kyrgyz women in the countryside, where thousands of young women are kidnapped for marriage every year.

In a statement on Monday, the impoverished republic’s culture ministry criticised the exhibit for using the “language of provocation” and disorientating visitors.

Organisers dedicated the exhibition to 17 people who died in a warehouse fire in Moscow in 2016, most of whom were female Kyrgyz migrants.

Kyrgyz lawmaker Makhabat Mavlyanova was among the conservatives who called for Djangaracheva’s sacking.

Mavlyanova was earlier this year embroiled in a row with secularists after complaining that Kyrgyz women were offending local tradition by sporting shoulder-baring wedding dresses.

A popular official inflated the scandal by using a vulgar expression to dismiss Mavlyanova’s viewpoint on Twitter.

Feminist groups and LGBT rights activists come under regular attack in Kyrgyzstan, which is closely aligned to Russia.

Hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz work in Moscow and other Russian cities where local activists complain they enjoy few rights.