Written by Claire Dorey
Images from left: Julie Bennett, Edori Fertig, Claire Dorey
During the next few posts we will be featuring the artwork and statements from artists participating in Silence Is Over, June 2018 at the Portico Gallery. Over 20 female artists had their say on a blank canvas on the subject of coercive control and sexual abuse. The canvases were assembled into two billboards to create a wall of unity. Traditionally used for advertising, often objectifying women, the billboards served as a reclaimed space where the female voice could be heard.
Images are featured in the order they were displayed on the billboards. The statements were an integral part of the exhibition.
Simon Stalley constructing the billboards
JULIE BENNETT, Tarana Burke, founder of Me Too movement, 2018, Household gloss, £650
I decided to paint Tarana Burke, an African-American civil rights activist to acknowledge her role in the Me Too movement. Often seen as a recent phenomenon, Tarana actually created the movement 12 years ago to support survivors of sexual violence and in particular women of colour from low wealth communities. Tarana, herself a survivor, has given so many women a forum for their voices to be heard and believed. Painted in household gloss, a contemporary oil-based medium, with frantic, bold and fluid brush marks, my work is an unapologetic celebration of paint reflecting Burke’s vision of thriving survivors whilst the fluidity serves as a reminder that although women’s rights have progressed significantly, progress can have a transient nature when it comes to abuse within relationships of power. I was excited by the idea of the Silence is Over final piece being a billboard collaboration of over 20+ South London Women Artists. I liked the reappropriation of the billboard from a medium that has previously objectified women’s bodies to one that powerfully communicates their message of wanting an end to abuse.
EDORI FERTIG, MGM Lioness, Acrylic, £250
It is 2018 and still only 3.3% of studio films are directed by women. The daily news of male sexual harassment cases against women within Hollywood further demonstrate the historic lack of power granted to women in the industry. Recently, MGM is reversing this trend with a good track record for hiring female directors. Rachel Lee Goldenberg will be directing Valley Girl, Ray Russo -Young will be directing The Sun Is Also A Star, and Madonna is directing Taking Flight. My image puts the female voice at the centre of the canvas. A roaring lioness replaces the traditional MGM lion in its infamous logo. The lioness is more colourful than its former male counterpart. I hope to highlight the improved position of female directors at this studio bringing new colour and perspectives. We look forward to other studios joining the debate and addressing the imbalance that has dominated the industry.
CLAIRE DOREY, Eighty Percent, Paint & Collage, £200
Statistics show that survivors of rape suffer high incidences of Post Traumatic Stress Dis order. It is reported to be even higher than that of war veterans. Victim Blaming Culture exacerbates this trauma. Flashbacks, associated with PTSD, are represented here, with a skull and cross bones etched into the iris. Eyes, the portal to the soul, are mounted onto a wounded peace symbol. The intention of this piece is to highlight the long term effects of sexual abuse. The culture of blaming victims needs to be stopped, removing shame from survivors and putting it squarely onto the predators, where it belongs.