Inaugurated in 2019, the eye-catching artwork ‘Listen’ in the center of Umeå depicts a roaring muscular feline sitting atop an almost cage-like steel structure 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground. The animal sculpture, which has an open gap filled with golden bronze, is made of polyester composite with Mazda red lacquer on the surface.
This permanent public installation symbolizes the Municipality of Umeå’s official stance against sexual harassment. It’s also the first monument in Sweden entirely dedicated to the social MeToo movement. While the formal name of the artwork is ‘Listen,’ locals call it “the MeToo cougar.”
The sculpture was created by Swedish artist Camilla Akraka (who is the sister to former Olympic athletics star Maria Akraka). She has described her installation as “conservative aesthetics of power that meets a story of liberation,” referring not only to the MeToo awareness campaign but also to the monument’s contrasts between the free organic feline and the traditional powerful material qualities such as steel, car paint, and gold.
When the €50,000 artwork was erected, it faced opposition from some local politicians who argued that allocating funds for what they perceived as “political art” was wasteful, particularly in light of recent education budget cuts. Even some feminists expressed concerns over the monument, viewing the representation of a cougar as “objectifying” towards women. However, the artist defended her work, emphasizing that the animal sculpture was never intended to be species-specific.
Know Before You Go
Freely accessible 24/7 and located in Rådhustorget (The Town Hall Square) in the very heart of Umeå, approx. 7 minutes by foot from the train and bus station.