Taipei, Dec. 24 (CNA) Indigenous artist Sakuliu Pavavaljung’s partner was accused by Taipei City Councilor Huang Yu-fen (黃郁芬) Friday of pressuring a teenage girl to keep quiet about an alleged sexual assault.
The accusations against Sakuliu arose after artist Kuo Yu-ping (郭俞平) published a piece titled “Story of a Small Town,” in which he describes how a Paiwan artist — whom Kuo calls Kulusa and who is widely thought to be Sakuliu — sexually assaulted a 19-year-old female fan of his work earlier this year.
In a news conference, Huang Yu-fen, who was accompanied by the 19-year-old accuser’s lawyer Huang Yu-chung (黃昱中), said Sakuliu exerted pressure on the girl, asking her not only to keep quiet but also to agree to a settlement so as to spare the reputation of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
The museum was previously set to showcase Sakuliu’s work at the Taiwan Pavilion for the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022.
Earlier Friday, Sakuliu denied the allegations and insisted he was innocent.
However, Huang Yu-fen said Sakuliu’s live-in partner had contacted the artist’s accuser in a bid to pressure her into signing a settlement agreement.
The independent Taipei City councilor added that the live-in partner repeatedly mentioned the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in a bid to coerce the accuser into settling.
Huang Yu-fen even released audio recordings purporting to show the interaction between Sakuliu’s live-in partner and his accuser.
The accuser’s lawyer, Huang Yu-chung, said the teenager had signed the settlement agreement after being persuaded by some others who were not fully aware of what had happened.
In addition, the lawyer said that her client had simply wanted to get a confession from Sakuliu, which he did not provide.
She said that the woman living with Sakuliu begged the accuser to forgive him and allow him to survive, as the Indigenous artist had committed multiple sexual assaults.
Huang Yu-fen said that if the Taipei Fine Arts Museum did not respond to the incident the institution could be considered an accomplice of Sakuliu, urging the museum to stop cooperation with the artist.
Earlier this week, the museum said work on the curation for the Venice Biennale would be halted “until things are clarified.”
In response, the museum said in a statement that it had never pressured the teenage accuser, and would entrust a lawyer to deal with the matter.
The museum said it reserved the right to file a lawsuit against anyone who raised false accusations.
Following the initial allegations against Sakuliu, Yu Yue-lien (余悅廉), an engineer, said in a Facebook post on Dec. 19 that the artist had attempted to sexually assault her in the summer of 2006 when she visited an exhibition of his work.
Prosecutors in Pingtung said they had launched a probe into the matter.
Born in a Paiwan village in Sandimen Township, Pingtung County, Sakuliu creates works in various forms, including painting, sculpture, installation, and architecture, and is also known for his advocacy and efforts to preserve Indigenous culture through art and activism.
(By Liu Chien-pang, Lee Hsin-ying and Frances Huang)
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