Health Ministry pulls art poster discussing disability

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The Health Ministry has pulled a poster advertising an exhibition by Polish artist Artur Żmijewski's from a medicine museum it owns. The poster, featuring two naked men, one of whom one is missing a leg, would have promoted Żmijewski's Blindspots on the facade of the Riga Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine. 

Blindspots was unveiled on June 3. It discusses disability by way of confronting the viewers with the naked bodies of handicapped people, reported LTV.

It takes the form of 'lessons' with one, titled "The problem body" showcasing the bodies while the other, "Love Thy Neighbor" showing the disabled bodies interacting with other people.

Museum representative Juris Salaks said he doesn't consider Blindspots to be provocative as the artist is able to find the blind spots of the public by "working just like traditional Chinese acupuncturists". 

"That's why his artistic language is so loud, visible, noticeable," said Salaks. 

He said curators chose the most neutral of the pictures in the exhibition to represent it.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry is reticent over its decision.

"The visuals of the poster were quite provocative and equivocal," said ministry representative Oskars Šneiders. He added that no other events surrounding the exhibition were affected by the decision.

Meanwhile Jurģis Briedis, a representative of the Apeirons association called this move "narrow-minded" and questioned as to how exactly this person is different from models routinely featured on similar posters.

Organizers hope the Health Ministry will change its mind by late September when the exhibition is slated to end.

Previously the Pauls Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine courted controversy with a hilariously presented but macabre exhibition on death masks. 

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