Artist Riyas Komu on Thursday apologised for his actions after being accused of sexual misconduct. Earlier this week, an art world professional alleged that Komu had sexually harassed her. The allegations were shared on the anonymously-run Instagram account ‘Scene and Herd’. In her post, the woman claimed that the artist pushed her against a wall and kissed her.
Komu is the co-founder of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an international art exhibition held in Kerala.
The harassment allegedly took place when the 37-year-old woman visited Kochi in October 2015 to discuss a project with the artist, reported The Indian Express. “He began kissing me and feeling me up while I struggled to even process what the hell was going on. I was so petrified that I just let it happen,” she wrote. “It stopped just as abruptly as it had started. And then he left.”
The woman recounted that Komu, 47, molested her again during her stay in Kochi.
On October 9, the complainant had posted a shorter version of the post, without naming Komu, on the same account. However, watching several women publicly name their abusers gave her the confidence to go public with the allegations, she said.
Komu apologised to the complainant and posted a statement on his Instagram account. “I’m deeply upset that this incident has been understood and presented in this manner,” he said. “However, as the person has expressed hurt, I would like here to offer my apologies and I am opening myself to the possibility of a conversation.”
The artist expressed his support for the #MeToo campaign in India, which has seen several women go public since October 5 with incidents of sexual harassment. “As an artist who is committed to social and political causes, I support the #MeToo movement that has disrupted the prevailing structures of authority and created ways for representing previously suppressed voices,” he said.
A contemporary art gallery in Mumbai on Thursday closed photographer Shahid Datawala’s show Datura after a woman accused him of sexual misconduct. On Tuesday, at least two women publicly accused acclaimed artist and sculptor Jatin Das of misconduct and sexual harassment in the past.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader MJ Akbar resigned as Union minister on Wednesday after journalist Priya Ramani and at least 15 other women accused him of sexual harassment. Other prominent names accused of sexual harassment and misconduct include actor Nana Patekar, directors Vikas Bahl, Subhash Ghai, Sajid Khan, and music composer Anu Malik.