Target: National Public Prosecutor’s Office in Poland
Goal: Prevent artist from being arrested and imprisoned for his decision to publicly display an offensive sculpture.
Polish artist Jerzy Bohdan Szumczyk recently installed a life-sized sculpture of a Soviet soldier raping a pregnant woman, next to a memorial commemorating the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1945. Szumczyk sought to make a public statement against the atrocities of war crimes, but he incited national hatred with his contentious work of art and now faces criminal charges. While his decision to illegally install this piece may be offensive to many, it is excessive to imprison an artist for attempting to send an important message to the public. Urge the National Public Prosecutor’s Office to fine Szumczyk for his illegal installation, but to take matters of national hatred no further.
Szumczyk said of his sculpture, titled Komm Frau (Come Woman), “I wanted to show the tragedy of women and the horrors of war,” adding that he hoped that others would interpret his work as “an expression of pacifism and a signal for peace.” On the contrary, many viewers deemed his art “vulgar” and “openly sacrilegious.”
Artists often use their medium to make controversial statements, and not everyone interprets art the same way. When Szumczyk’s work appeared next to the communist-era monument, it quickly gathered negative attention and was removed after only a few hours. Still, the only crime Szumczyk should be tried for is his tasteless decision to install the statue without permission. Artists are at liberty to paint and sculpt whatever they choose, and to pursue charges against the content of his work would be a gross infringement of free speech.
Whether or not the public approves, this sculpture does not intrinsically violate any law.
Sign this petition to advise that the National Public Prosecutor’s Office punish Szumczyk only on the grounds of illegal installation, and that they do not imprison this artist for making a controversial statement.
Dear National Public Prosecutor’s Office,
Polish artist, Jerzy Bohdan Szumczyk, recently made the tasteless decision to illegally install a controversial sculpture next to a memorial that commemorates the Red Army. This sculpture of a Soviet soldier raping a pregnant women is extremely offensive to the public, but I urge you to consider that an artist is at liberty to paint or sculpt anything he pleases, and any restrictions on this would directly violate free speech.
Szumczyk’s statue is, perhaps, an ineffective way to advocate for pacifism and peace, but the art itself does not violate the law. His decision to illegally install this art is the only grounds for which he should be tried. As such, I urge you to fine this artist solely for his poor decision to thwart the law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jerzy Bohdan Szumczyk