Confronting Sexual Assault Through Photography
Alice Bailey Puts A Face On The Healing Process Of Survivors
April 1, 2005 --
WHO: Alice Bailey, Fifth-Year Aunspaugh Fellow U.Va. McIntire Department of Art
WHAT: Photography exhibit titled “Facing Sexual Assault”
WHEN: Friday, April 8 through Friday, April 22
Opening Reception, Friday, April 8, 5 to 7 p.m.
WHERE: The Satellite Ballroom, behind Plan 9 on The Corner
The exhibit will be open during Plan 9’s regular hours of operation or call the artist at (605) 430-6385 for a special showing.
Photographer Alice Bailey seeks to raise awareness about sexual assault and address the anonymity that many survivors choose through an exhibit of portraits. Out of the 25 self-selected women and men from the University of Virginia and Charlottesville communities who responded to her call for project participants, Bailey has compiled portraits and — in a few cases — images of another characteristic of the individuals that will open a dialogue to the topic that is often stigmatized by silence.
“I want to raise awareness, to help the healing process,” Bailey said. “Putting a face on each survivor will help break that anonymity.”
Bailey, a Fifth-Year Aunspaugh Fellow in the McIntire Department of Art, chose to shoot the portraits in color using a large-format view camera that produces images with exceptional clarity and directness
“I wanted each portrait to be very real, to have a direct experience with the person,” Bailey said. “The colors are vibrant, These people are alive.”
Prior to taking each portrait, Bailey spent time with the participants, discussing their experiences, often meeting two or three times before the photography session. Using the view camera also played a part in assuring each person would be comfortable with having his or her picture taken. The camera takes a long time to set up and after she makes all the adjustments,
Bailey comes out from under the drape and engages the subject. Not having the camera as a barrier between the artist and subject, the vulnerability that many people feel in front of a camera is abated, Bailey said.
“It’s exciting to see people take their experience and do something with it,” Bailey said. “A number are already involved in counseling others. It’s inspiring that they are coming to terms with their experiences and moving on.”
The portraits represent a spectrum of where people are on the healing journey. In the finished portraits, the participants furthest along in this journey are looking straight at the camera, taking a stance, and confronting the world, the incident and themselves. In most, the subject’s eyes are focused and directly engage the viewer. Other portraits only show the back of the head, a hand or arm — these subjects are not as far along in their healing journey.
“The focus of the project is on healing and the perspective of the survivor; not on the politics or bureaucracy,” Bailey said.
The 18- by 22-inch portraits will be displayed in a line of closely touching images as they stretch around the ballroom, interspersed with panels of text that place the project in a larger context — focusing both on the individual and on the larger issue of sexual assault in our society. The project will open during the week of Take Back the Night, an annual international rally and march that is organized in locally with the purpose of unifying communities in an awareness of violence against women, children and families.
The text panels in the exhibit, which will be provided by the Charlottesville’s Sexual Assault Resource Agency, U.Va.’s Women’s Center and a University student writing a dissertation on sexual assault, will include statistics, as well as descriptions of the range and types of behaviors that make up sexual assault. Bailey also will include a sound element that will incorporate fragments from her initial conversations with each participant.
“The show will reveal the importance of dialogue as a healing process, solidify a community of survivors, and make a powerful and lasting visual impact about the immediacy of this issue,” Bailey said.
For more information about the exhibit, contact Alice Bailey at (605) 430-6385 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298