Police Museum pulls victims’ exhibition after criticism

Artist regrets not asking the relatives of the victims beforehand after two years of work goes to waste

(photo: Stephen Wright)
January 29th, 2013 1:37 pm| by admin
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Copenhagen’s Police Museum has closed their now-notorious exhibition of 12 murdered women after intense criticism from victims' relatives and politicians.

The museum set up the exhibition, entitled ‘Kvindedrab in memoriam’ (Murdered women, a memorial), without first asking permission from victims' families. The museum’s administrators say they deliberately chose not to inform the families in order to protect their own freedom of speech.

But now the museum has decided to take down the exhibition, writing on its website that the hefty media debate has irreparably compromised the exhibition's original intentions.

“The discussion surrounding the exhibition has overshadowed the exhibition itself and out of respect for the artist’s original idea, and to not further drag the next of kin through more debate, we have decided to cease the exhibition,” the statement reads. The Police Museum also apologised to the relatives of the victims who were portrayed.

A number of the relatives of the 12 women, including the mother of Cecilie Kajus Næblerød from Aalborg, who was stabbed by her ex-boyfriend in 2006, had been highly critical of the fact that they were not asked for permission to include their murdered family members.

Birgitte Skallgård, the artist behind the 12 portraits that took two years to paint, agreed that it was a mistake that relatives of the victims were not asked beforehand.

“The debate is insulting and undignified for all the young women, for their relatives and for me,” Skallgård wrote in a press release. “It was a huge mistake that the next of kin were not notified and invited to participate from the beginning. I had hoped that they would forgive it when they saw the pictures of them all. Of Maria, Monika, Katja, Cecilie, Ghazala, Betina, Hanne, Anne-Stine, Anette, Lene, Marcela and Marie.”

The museum only asked the relatives for permission after the critical story hit the media. And when two of the 12 refused, Skallgård chose to drop the exhibition because she viewed the remaining portraits as being incomplete.

(photo: Stephen Wright)
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