This period-themed art is causing outrage on Stockholm’s subway

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Susan Devaney
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One artist’s latest work is upsetting commuters in Stockholm.

Periods make people uncomfortable – even in 2017.

From hiding a tampon up our sleeve as we head for the bathroom to speaking about our periods in euphemisms, many women find themselves taking measures to ensure we hide the fact we’re menstruating. And the issue is not restricted to misplaced embarrassment over a natural bodily function – the silence around this part of the female experience means problems such as period poverty, shame and even office sexism are a very real thing.

Which is why one female artist, Liv Strömquist, has taken the matter into her own hands by sharing her period-themed artwork across Stockholm’s subway as part of project The Night Garden – which also features birds, cats, trees and naked men.

Inspired by the ‘pastoral idyll’ genre, Strömquist wanted to provide some calm to stressed-out commuters, according to The Guardian

The artwork features various women drawn in felt-tip pen, rendered in black and white with a burst of red highlighting the fact they’re menstruating.

All of the artwork spread out across Stockholm’s Slussen station for the past five weeks – also known as the world’s longest art gallery – shows women ice-skating while menstruating. From a lady ice-skating and lifting her leg to show she’s on her period to a woman just sitting down and brilliantly showing her period stain on her trousers. 

But some of the city’s commuters are not happy with the artwork – due to its setting.

“Lovely! Locals can now enjoy menstruation even in the subway!” one social media user wrote on Twitter. 

“It is not enough to [have your period] once a month. Now you will be reminded every time you jump on the subway,” another tweeted.

Some others, meanwhile, have applauded the work:

“I think these Stockholm metro murals by Liv Strömquist are amazing!,” one user wrote. 

While causing controversy is something Strömquist is used to experiencing with her work, she says she didn’t expect menstruation to provoke such a reaction. 

“It’s weird that it’s deemed so provocative, as it’s something that we see all the time,” she told the SVT television station. “I have a hard time to understand that.” 

Martina Viklund, a spokeswoman for the Stockholm transport company SL, said complaints had been made about the artwork, but that they stood by it.

“We do not wish for the work to be offensive in any way,” Viklund told Guardian Cities

“But with that being said, we do not have a certain policy regarding different expressions of the naked human body.

“Art is a form of tradition were the human body has always been a subject for interpretation. By showing art of Liv Strömquist, we wanted to celebrate the human body in all of its shapes and forms.”

Images: Liv Strömquist / Twitter