Milo Moire Performs Naked in Cologne to Protest Sexual Assault

Police stood by, and didn't stop the performance.

Performance artist Milo Moire holds up a poster reading "Respect us! We are no fair game, even when we are naked!!!" as she stands near Cologne's landmark, the Cologne Cathedral, to protest on January 8, 2016 against offenses against women that happened in Cologne on New Year's Eve. Thirty-one suspects, including 18 asylum seekers, are under investigation over offences including assault and theft in Cologne on New Year's Eve, Germany's interior ministry said. / AFP / dpa / Oliver Berg / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)

“Respect Us! We are not fair game even when naked!!!” read a simply-painted protest sign created by Milo Moire on Friday. The Swiss artist wore the sign and little else during her performance in front of the Cologne Cathedral on Friday, which was a nude protest against sexual assault in the city.

For Moire, stripping down to her birthday suit in the name of art is not a new thing. She has garnered attention in the past for nude performances at Art Basel and the Eiffel Tower, and a performance at Art Cologne in 2014 saw the artist squeeze paint-filled eggs out of her vagina.

Moire’s performance was in response to a New Year’s Eve incident, according to the Telegraph, in which a group of teenage girls were allegedly sexually assaulted and pickpocketed by a group of 30 or so men in the city center, near the main train station and Cathedral.

According to the Telegraph, the Polizei allowed the performance to occur and attempted to divert some young men in the area away from the naked protest artist. Perhaps an attempt to make up for their failures to stop sexual assaults in the past, it seems that the police’s actions of keeping men away from a provocative, yet necessary, protest comes too little too late.

Getting naked in the face of sexual assault may seem counter-intuitive to some. A tactic employed by female performance artists in myriad settings, a woman’s willing public nudity functions as a reclamation of a body that is so often taken against her will.

Elsewhere, young people in Mexico protested the mass kidnapping and killing of students with their naked bodies; performance artist Poppy Jackson sat nude on a London rooftop; one female artist reenacted Courbet’s the Origin of the World in Paris; and a town in Switzerland launched its own festival dedicated to nude performance art. Naked bodies are definitely one way to grab attention, but it’s unclear whether they are also a way to make change.

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