Weird World

Feminist menstruation art causes controversy in Swedish subway system


STOCKHOLM — An art exhibit in Stockholm’s subway system, where paintings are permanently on display at 90 of 100 stations, has sparked controversy by featuring images of women menstruating.

A series of wall-sized black-and-white paintings of women, painted by artist Liv Strömquist, a popular feminist and satirist, shows ice skaters in black and white with red period blood staining their leotards.

The paintings, featuring female figure skaters doing leg lifts, dominate the platforms of the central Slussen station. The metro station, like most others in the Swedish capital, serves as a display space for an ever-changing art exhibition.

Reactions since the images were put up in late September have varied – from urban indifference, to tourist picture-taking, to upset commuters posting on social media to signal their displeasure.

“It’s not fun explaining to a four-year-old about the red between the legs,” wrote one user on Twitter while others questioned whether subway users should be forced to see art that they might find offensive.

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Several objected to using a public space and a captive audience to display such controversial images.

Another Twitter user said it’s “not enough to just get periods, now you have to stare at them in the subway,” while another complained that the posters forced them to explain periods to their alarmed four-year old. Someone simply called the images “disgusting.”

Despite the complaints, transit officials have stood by Strömquist’s work, noting that the exhibit seeks “to celebrate the human body in all of its shapes and forms.”

With Inputs from Agency