Maria Kulikovska: confronting violence against women… using the female form

Maria Kulikovska disturbs the comfortable by making sculptures of female genitalia and using her own body as her model. Playful and provocative, she inspires young women in Kiev to take ownership of their bodies and to take action against the perpetrators of violence and sexism against women.

Content warning: this post contains mature themes.

Maria Kulikovska (Productions Emergent Inc.)

Maria Kulikovska is a provocateur by nature and an artist by trade who lives her life as a form of protest. Using her body as a canvas to create installation art, Maria tackles issues of patriarchy and sexism in Ukraine, where female empowerment still has a long way to go.

In Maria's own words, "As an artist I am always working with questions about women and who owns our body and our life. Now in this time of the war I cannot continue to work with just these questions in these safe frames. It is something inside me that wishes to change something. I want to push these questions and be out in the open and discuss these things. I want to stop the violence."

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      As an artist, Maria uses materials such as gypsum and plaster to cast molds of her own body parts which she has exhibited in galleries across the Ukraine. In 2014, Maria installed silicone molds of her entire body outside the Izolyatsia Gallery in Donentsk, Ukraine. When the pro-Russian rebel army invaded, they used the installation works as targets for their shooting practice.

      The aggressive acts committed by the rebels compelled Maria to create another installation artwork to confront the issue of violence toward the female body. She began to make silicone molds of her own genitalia — she calls them "pink pussies." After waiting a few hours for the mold to try, she removes it from her body, recasts the mold to duplicate as many as she can — to date, well over 300 — and paints each one pink and skin-tone colours so that art can imitate life in its purest form.

      After creating these "pussy molds," Maria places each one ever-so-gently in flower pots, steps and fountains surrounding government buildings in Kiev. We filmed her recent action for Interrupt This Program as Maria placed these sculptures all alongside the walls surrounding the Zhovten Cinema that was set on fire last year by anti-gay rioters. She calls this latest on-going action "Flowers of Democracy."  (Follow them on their Facebook page.) 

      Maria Kulikovska is a provocateur who uses images of her own body — molds of her own genitalia — to protest violence against women in Kiev. With a team of like-minded activists, she places these molds ever-so-gently in flower pots, steps and fountains surrounding government buildings. She calls the project 'Flowers of Democracy'. 1:50

      Maria is now the leader of a group of female activists who have joined the Flowers of Democracy action. Maria hosts workshops for women where she teaches them how to make silicone molds, using their bodies as canvases. Through this project, Maria has inspired a young generation of women of Kiev to take ownership of their bodies and to take action against the perpetrators of violence and sexism against women.

      To witness the first Flower of Democracy action unfold, watch Interrupt This Program: Kiev, airing Friday, November 20 at 8:30/9 NT