Municipal authorities in the Macedonian capital Skopje have quickly made arrangements to have a recently erected bronze statue of naked Prometheus covered up, following complaints from unidentified "women's organizations".The complaints - and the speedy official response - have sparked debate, and some have acccused the authorities of hypocrisy.
After just a few days of complaints, the municipal authorities arranged for a bronze loin cloth to be welded to the statue, restoring Prometheus' modesty. The statue had been erected earlier in May, opposite the Parliament building.
Centar Municipality in a statement last week said the changes were made “after several women’s organizations filed complaints” and were “offended” by the statue's nudity. The municipality stressed that the sculptor, Tome Adzievski, had given permission for the statiue to be partially covered.
However, on Friday the municipality declined to name the organisations concerned and Mayor Vladimir Todorovic was not avaliable for comment.
Savka Todorova, head of the country's largest women's association, the Union of Women’s Organizations of Macedonia, SOZM, said her organisation had not made any request to the authorities regarding the statue.
Todorova said “the naked man is not a problem”. Instead, she criticised what she said was wider tendency of “not taking women seriously through sculpture and [usually] representing them as 'decoration' and without authority.”
The sculpture is part of a monument complex dedicated to “fallen Macedonian heroes” that is being erected opposite Parliament. Prometheus, who in Greek mythology stole fire from the gods, is depicted as a symbol of self-sacrifice. Behind and above the statue of Prometheus are four horses and a goddess symbolizing victory.
“Our environment is small and frustrated and this (speedy cover-up) reflects hypocrisy and self-censorship,” said Skopje-based art professor Vladimir Velickovski, adding that “in private everything is allowed while in public everything is disputed.”
The sculpture and monument are part of the government-funded “Skopje 2014”project aimed at beautifying the shabby centre of the Macedonian capital.
While the centre-right government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has staunchly defended the expensive overhaul, which mainly draws inspiration from the styles of ancient antiquity, opposition parties have criticised the cost of the project at a time of economic uncertainty.
The Prometheus incident has prompted many to speculate about the possibility of a cover-up in the case of a giant sculpture of a woman brest-feeding a child, which is yet to be erected in Karposh Square, just a few hundred metres from the Prometheus sculpture.