New East Digital Archive

Poland’s Bison Ladies gatecrash Warsaw exhibition in #MeToo protest

6 August 2018

A feminist art group in Poland has launched a protest against a Warsaw gallery showing works by controversial Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.

Dressed in their signature bison masks, Żubryce Mówimy Nie — or Bison Ladies, We Say No in English — stormed the city’s Raster Gallery on 2 August.

They protested Araki’s work being shown as part of the gallery’s latest group show, Foreign Bodies, despite accusations from a model that the artist exploited and mistreated her throughout their 16-year collaboration.

Demonstrators gave out copies of the allegations against Araki in April, with placards against “sanctioning violence in art.”

“[Araki’s] visions of women are provocative and violent. They validate the domination of the male gaze and the pornification of the female body,” the group said in a statement.

“Żubrzyce is against sanctioned violence in commercial art, as well as those turning a blind eye to the abuse of employees and relatives just because it has been legitimised by the ‘professionalism’ of the perpetrators,” they said.

Żubryce Mówimy Nie was formed in early 2017 as part of a backlash against the Polish government’s increasingly conservative reforms. The anonymous group adopted the bison — one of Poland’s national symbols — to protest feminist causes both at anti-government demonstrations and elsewhere.