NeUyat festival kicked-off in Tashkent. It is an anti-violence project organized by and 139 Documentary Center gallery aimed at stricking the culture of shame surrounding the sexual violence in Uzbekistan.

“It is common in our society to silence sexual abuse, downplay the suffering of those who have experienced it, shift responsibility onto them: dressed wrongly, behaved wrongly, ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is acceptable to shame and be ashamed, but not to support and protect each other,” comments Nigina Khudaybergenova, coordinator of the project.

exhibition, festival, neuyat, sexual harassment, harassment

In congruence with the past event, the festival opened from the NeUyat exhibition. Thirteen female artists aimed to express their stance on sexual violence and provide support to those who have experienced it in the past or are currently facing it.

A trendy bright pink is the main color of the exhibition. The exhibitors use it to emphasize that some society members perceive the central theme as a social norm: “everyone lives like this.” In a world with a cult of strength and power, excuses for aggressors' actions are more often uttered than words of support. Small children, teenagers, women, and the elderly are the ones lacking support known to be in a vulnerable position. They are the ones who push, provoke, instigate — by their appearance, glances, behavior, sometimes by the fact of their mere existence.

exhibition, festival, neuyat, sexual harassment, harassment

The artworks are set against white walls that brightly reflect the light. This gives the exposition the effect of well-being and “social acceptance.” Being imaginary, it dissipates upon closer examination of the art objects. Thus, catcalling is illustrated in three striking funny female portraits entitled “Sweetie,” “Baby,” and “Chick” from the series “Puss-puss-puss,” created by artist Anita Turadjanova. The artworks convey the idea of street harassment in various forms, spanning from “harmless” whistling and vulgar compliments to physical violation of women’s personal boundaries. Through the deliberately grotesque depiction of the heroines, the author conveys “feelings of discomfort and absurdity” that women experience when subjected to “flattering” and objectifying epithets.

exhibition, festival, neuyat, sexual harassment, harassment

Survivors of sexual abuse often grapple with the loss of their corporeal connection, their sense of self and bodily boundaries. In her artwork “Splinters of soul,” artist Sitora Brejneva explores this very theme. Her protagonist is a woman who, following a traumatic experience, embarks on a journey of self-recovery, piecing herself back together — quite literally.

exhibition, festival, neuyat, sexual harassment, harassment

Artist Zilola Qodirova delves into the theme of severed corporeal connections by scrutinizing the objectification of women. This objectification reduces women to the status of inanimate objects, akin to stools, downgrading their societal roles to mere service functions. To address contemporary challenges, women, cast as objects, are compelled to aspire to an idealized image sculpted in the minds of those who objectify them. This ideal is perpetuated through sexualized portrayals in advertising, cinema, online influences, and their immediate surroundings. These attempts to attain the idealized version of themselves often result in the tragic path of self-destruction.

“The women society wants us to be and the women we currently are represent two entirely contrasting images,” says Nigina Khudaybergenova, one of the curators of the exhibition.

exhibition, festival, neuyat, sexual harassment, harassment

In addition to paintings and installations, some of which offer visitors interaction, the exhibition features video art and a short animated film. The works are presented in two languages: Uzbek and Russian.

NeUyat is a multidisciplinary festival. The exhibition is supported by an interactive lecture with a real-life story “The experience of therapy through traumas. The way out of hell is laid through hell” (November 17), public discussions on the topics “The unobvious consequences of sexual violence in society and how it can be healed” (November 18) and “How has the situation with gender-based violence changed over the year?” (November 25). The soonest upcoming event is a screening of the film “Desire” at 139 Documentary Center (November 11).

The entry to all festival events is free of charge.

“We are waiting for each and every one to address with taboo and violence together, promote the culture that it is not shameful to be a survivor of sexual violence, it is shameful to be a perpetrator,” Nigina Khudaybergenova highlighted.

NeUyat exhibition is open until November 26. It is accessible from Tuesday to Sunday between 11:00 and 19:00.