Barbara Kruger’s seminal 1989 poster, Your Body is a Battleground, has reappeared on the streets of Poland, almost 30 years after it was first plastered on walls around the Eastern European country. The reason? The graphic work hits at the core of the ongoing protest movement that erupted after a constitutional tribunal promised to further tighten Poland’s restrictive abortion laws.
Kruger's famed text-based artworks have been plastered across museums, adorned skateboards, metrocards, and magazine covers — they even "influenced" Supreme. But it is her Your Body is a Battleground work that is perhaps most recognizable and resonant around the world.
Kruger originally designed the poster – featuring a photograph of a woman’s face, half printed in negative with the working title printed in her signature red-and-white oblique Futura bold type – for the 1989 Women’s March in Washington, DC. The protest was organized to uphold the 1973 Roe v Wade US Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion in the United States.
Two years later in 1991, as women’s rights were eroded in Poland, Kruger's work was translated into Polish, and 500 posters were distributed throughout Warsaw. According to reports, the posters were swiftly torn down or covered up but six months later, a Polish feminist group agreed to redistribute the posters, "pasting the works in hard-to-reach spots and ensuring the image became part of Polish history."
Over the past two weeks, as hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters continue to take to the streets to oppose the court’s ruling to restrict access to terminations and body autonomy, more than 100 posters have been distributed in the streets of Szczecin. This is part of a partnership between Kruger and the TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art.
Speaking on the situation and her involvement in the project Kruger said, “the urgent and brave protesting of marginalized, disempowered and newly empowered bodies is an insistent threat to the dominant and extremist choreographies of religion, power, and politics in Poland. The brazen hypocrisy of the Church and its predictable fist-bumping with the political right make for a grotesque dance of male bonding and resolute abuse of power.”
Find a list of pro-choice organizations you can support in Poland in the IG caption below: