On Friday, September 2, convicted rapist Brock Turner was released from jail after serving three months of an already lenient six-month sentence. People were angry about it. They were angry that the deeply chilling, powerful letter his victim read directly to Turner in court had no effect on his sentence. They were angry that the same judge doled out a harsher three-year penalty to a Latino convicted of the same crime. But perhaps most of all, they were angry at a culture that doesn’t see rape as rape–something best exemplified by Turner’s father describing the sexual assault of an unconscious woman in a dumpster as “20 minutes of action.” A new art project from a photography student attempts to make the distinction as stark and clear as possible.
“It Happened” is a series of photographs that emphasize the variety of forms rape takes. Created by Ithaca College student Yana Mazurkevich, each photo swaps genders and scenarios, and includes captions that enhance the theme, such as “It happens anywhere.” The impact of the photos lies in how easily their subjects are distinguishable from anything resembling “20 minutes of action.” In some instances, the way the bodies are arranged–a couple lying in bed or draped across a couch–look like they could be just having fun . . . except for the key difference of one person in each photo looking directly at the camera horrified. In some of the other photos, however, the victims are obviously, undeniably unwilling–a woman whose head is being shoved against a brick wall outside by a man who has his hand down her skirt. The goal of the project is to get people like Brock’s father to see all of these photos as the same thing.
Art projects about rape are confrontational, uncomfortable, and necessary. In 2014, a student at Columbia University carried a mattress around campus with her at all times to protest the not-guilty verdict in a university hearing against her alleged rapist. More recently, a BuzzFeed video by Ali Vingiano, timed to coincide with Turner’s release, illuminates the message of the Stanford victim’s letter: that sexual assault stays with you for far longer than most perpetrators are sentenced. Mazurkevich’s project is another visceral reminder of both the victim’s trauma, and those who ignore it.
Have a better look at the project in the slides above.
[via Bored Panda]