On Rape aims to call out institutional rape culture prevalent in societies around the world
“I chose this topic, the second chapter of A History of Misogyny, in the same way as the first chapter, On Abortion. It was triggered by a local news story that shocked me deeply. In 2018 five men who had gang-raped an 18-year-old woman were initially set free by the Spanish Court after being sentenced for abuse rather than rape. This would eventually call into question Spanish legislation and spark the largest feminist protest in the country’s history.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, I wanted to understand why some institutional structures of justice, law and policy were not only failing survivors, but actually encouraging perpetrators by preserving particular power dynamics and social norms.
By looking back at history, I could identify gender-based stereotypes and myths, as well as global prejudices and misconceptions that have prevailed and perpetuated the culture of rape. Through painstaking research on the shortcomings of justice and negative attitudes of victim-blaming, this work is a personal analysis of cultural, social and political contexts around the world, that still normalise sexual violence.”
Laia Abril’s long-term project A History of Misogyny is visual research undertaken through historical and contemporary comparisons. In her second chapter, On Rape, Abril focuses on institutional rape throughout a series of conceptual portraits, that together with testimonials symbolise the different systemic rape cultures. In this instance, Abril uses history to track back the origin of laws and beliefs. This includes legislation that forces the victims to marry their rapists, rape used as a weapon of war, the fake construction of virginity or the genesis of rape schedule, which makes women reconsider their daily routines in order to protect themselves from potential harm. Through this research journey, Abril invites audiences to experience her reactions in the form of an audio, textual and visual installations.