Road to my New York and Berlin exhibitions - part 1
t h e f w o r d
f e m i n i s m | f i e r c e | f i g h t
An artistic exploration aimed at empowering females that have been raped or physically abused in Africa. Finding a way to not only help the individual, but creating awareness, eradicating the shame of admitting to it and guiding the community to best join hands in the fight against it.
Michelle Hattingh: my fiercely feminist friend of so many years that we battled the horror of puberty together. I know her adolescent secrets as well as she know mine. We sneaked our first sips of alcohol, first drag of a cigarette, first crush, first dance party.
And then the next rape.
I will never forget the message. Since her phone was stolen she sent it via Facebook. It was a Sunday. Summer was slowly arriving. I knew, instinctively I knew. All I could do was buy Nik Naks and cry on my way to her house in Claremont. We sat on the porch as she relived her nightmare for me. I was blindingly angry.
She dedicated her psychology studies to researching victims and perpetrators of rape. On the night that they celebrated their graduation in Muizenberg, a girl confided in her to share her own horror stories of rape. It was in this moment, where she was consoling a friend, that they were dragged away, violently raped, threatened and beaten.
This project is something that has been close to my heart for the longest time and I am finally going to give it everything I have. There is not a single cent involved besides my own. I am going to work, pray, shout it from the rooftops and see where it takes me. 10% of the proceeds will be donated to Michelle Hattingh’s choice of charity: The Rape Crisis Center.
This is the photographic shoot that I arranged for Michelle. It was my hope to do a series of portraits of her to show her how truly beautiful she is. None of the photographs have been edited besides minor colour and light tweaks. From there, I created a series of artworks inspired by her that will be traveling with me to New York and Berlin.
As females, our body image is distorted. As rape victims, it destroys a woman’s perception of her body even further. This will not change her entire view of her body but I do hope that it gives her even the slightest bit of insight into how the world sees her compared to what she sees in the mirror herself.
If there is one book you need to read this year it is "I'm the girl who was raped" by Michelle Hattingh. It is indescribably powerful and so necessary in our current climate in South Africa as well as the rest of the world.
If you feel passionately about this topic you can help by donating directly to The Rape Crisis Center.
For the first time in my life I might have to humbly ask if anyone feels passionately about this project and would be able to help me pay for some of the expenses of setting up these exhibitions. Please do get in touch if this speaks to you as strongly as it does me. I will send you a list of the costs and you can choose what to donate to. In turn I will post a gift to you wherever you are in the world. Thank you.
Keep an eye out for my next blog post where I interview Michelle.
Photography and words by Maria Magdalena.