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408,223 skirt lifts


Four years after the iconic 'Czarny Protest' (Black Protest) movement that had more than 100,000 women marching the streets of Poland, protesting the government's plans to tighten abortion laws, since yesterday, the work of Iwona Demko started gaining momentum.

Her gesture inspired and became a gesture of all women in Poland. In 2016, the artist created a work entitled "408,223 skirt lifts". The photo shows several figures of Iwona Demko standing in the Krakow main market square, lifting her skirt as an act of protest and revealing her vagina (the vagina is not visible in the photo; it is covered with a black mandorla). This gesture has a symbolic meaning; it is supposed to paralyse the powerheads and show their decision's absurdity.

"In this photograph, I connected the idea of shaming with three concepts - the vulva, disgraceful acts, and disciplining through anasyrma, that is, lifting skirts. The Polish government could then hopefully be ashamed of its ideas, that is, imposing strict abortion laws, but at the same time, it can also be disgraced. How could you protest better about the vagina than by not lifting your skirt?" - says the artist.

Demko thus speaks on behalf of all women and calls for a female rebellion and a symbolic revolution because the skirt-lifting gesture retains its power owing to its simple yet strong message

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