Tyler Green
Art-focused Journalism by Tyler Green

Tyler Green Modern Art Notes

Rape: A special post for Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo.

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Suzanne Lacy, Three Days in May, 1977.

Yesterday Missouri GOP U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said that victims of “legitimate rape” do not get pregnant and that women have a biological defense that prevents them from becoming pregnant if raped. According to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 32,000 American women become pregnant each year after being raped.

This Suzanne Lacy was included in the recent “Under the Big Black Sun” exhibition at MOCA. Here’s the background information on the piece and project, via MOCA’s website:

“In May 1977, Suzanne Lacy organized an ‘expanded performance’ over the course of three weeks to raise awareness among Los Angeles inhabitants of the frequency of assaults on women citywide. The project opened on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1977, and included performances and installations as well as non-art events such as speeches, interviews, self-defense demonstrations, and speak-outs. On this map of Los Angeles, installed in the mall outside City Hall, Lacy stenciled the word ‘RAPE’ in red on the approximate locations attacks reported to police during the three weeks of the project. (At the close of Three Weeks in May, ninety rapes had been reported.) The artist later stated that ‘if rape was practically a household experience [she should] make its name a household word.'”

Much more of the project is visible here.

Readers are invited to suggest other art with which Rep. Akin should familiarize himself in the comments.

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  1. Tyler Green says:

    Barbara Kruger, Your body is a battleground, 1989. Collection of The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica, Calif.

  2. Stephen says:

    Every version of Judith and Holofernes ever painted, drawn, filmed, etc.

  3. Cate Conroy says:

    Rep. Todd Akin should view any and all art that raises public awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS, particularly in countries where violence against women and young girls through war and genocide has resulted in the rampant spread of the disease. Considering his ignorance about rape and pregnancy, he probably remains blissfully unaware that rape under any condition can result in HIV/AIDS infections. These victims of trauma and abuse must endure an agonizing wait for several months before they can be tested for the infection, thus prolonging the psychological trauma of their violation. Abused women and girls, and anyone subjected to sexual violence, are vulnerable to contract other STDs too, especially if they have no access to health care and are not properly treated with antibiotics following an attack. Refer Rep. Akin to the Museum of International Folk Art to see the work of women folk artists who are combating the sexual and other psychological violence done to them, making a living, and raising awareness through their work: http://www.internationalfolkart.org/exhibitions/past/empoweringwomen/africaempoweringwomen.html
    Artist Ephigenia Mukantabana, who endured such atrocities in Rwanda is now working alongside other women to rebuild their broken lives, has said: “Art heals the hopeless soul. And through interaction you reduce trauma. Weaving is hope for tomorrow.”

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