October 20, 2019

Oksana Shachko, a Founder of Feminist Protest Movement, Dies at 31

Oksana Shachko, a Founder of Feminist Protest Movement, Dies at 31

Ms. Shachko left Femen in 2014, saying the group, which by then had spread to other cities, had lost its purpose.

“It was not the small, revolutionary, aggressive and courageous movement that we created in Ukraine,” she said. In France, “it became empty.”

Oksana Shachko was born in Khmelnytsky, a sleepy regional capital 160 miles west of Kiev. Her parents had her studying religious iconography when she was 8 years old. Two years later, she was painting murals in churches and monasteries.

At 13, she decided to become a nun, but her parents talked her out of it.

“From this moment on, I began to reflect on what religion and faith mean to a human being,” she said in 2016 in an interview with the 032c, a culture magazine published in Berlin. “I found an answer, and it was atheism.”

Survivors include her mother, Olga Shachko, and a brother, Aleksei.

In Paris, Ms. Shachko worked on a documentary film about Femen with the French director Alain Margot. She also returned to creating icons, but this time they were intended for art galleries, not churches.

One depicted the Orthodox trinity with angels wearing flower crowns and smoking cigarettes in front of empty bottles. In 2016, Ms. Shachko had a solo exhibition of her work at a Paris art gallery.

“In my icons, I replace men; I put women in the center,” she said in an interview with the British magazine Crash in December. “My work is still very feminist.”

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