Musow Ka Touma Sera
curated by Fatima BocoumAccording to UN Women, thirty-five percent of women in Mali have experienced sexual violence. In addition to this high rate, Malian women are further violated by an unspoken cultural norm called sutura, a tradition that psychologically grooms women and girls to conceal, forgive and bear their sufferings. Sutura impacts how Malian society deals with sexual violence in multiple ways. For those with knowledge of an assault, empathy for the victims is expressed with silence and inaction. Victims themselves are required to protect their families from associated shame. And a victim's anger towards her assailant is converted into empathy by fear of tarnishing his reputation. Survivors of abuse are, therefore, expected to sacrifice their individual autonomy and rationalize their traumas and taught to prioritize stature in their communities over their own safety, desires, and justice. In patriarchal societies such as Mali, men dominate nearly all realms of public life. In this context, sutura can be understood as a systemic tool that protects the patrilineal reputation. It forces women to first be adept in its practice then its enforcement; otherwise, they are ostracized, deemed illegitimate and unworthy.
Through the artworks of six Malian women artists, Musow Ka Touma Sera—written in Bambara and translated as "it is the era of women"—examines sutura and its subcultural mechanisms which enable the amplification of patriarchy and presents a message of empowerment to Malian women.
Fatima Bocoum is an entrepreneur, activist, and curator from Mali. She earned an Associate of Science in Fine Arts from GSU as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Media and New Technologies from Fordham University. She is the Founder of Openletr, a feminist blog with the mission to break societal and cultural boundaries to empower women to stand up, speak out and make better daily choices, all while taking on curatorial projects. The latest of which, entitled Transfiguration, was exhibited at Undercurrent Projects and featured seven women artists from six different countries. Fatima's works heavily revolve in the area of women's rights, and she was featured in Mounyou Ni Sabali?, a documentary on sexual violence in Mali, which premiered in March 2019.
apexart’s program supporters past and present include The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Buhl Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, Spencer Brownstone, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Puffin Foundation, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.