For Bosnia, For Darfur, for Sudan; and For Congo are wallpapers that foreground the ‘background’ issue of the use of rape as a tool of war. Bosnian Muslim and Croatian women brutalized through rape were further violated as their perpetrators videotaped and shared footage with each other, turning mass rape into a theatrical pornographic spectacle.1 In this series, images recede into abstracted patterns and only become legible upon close viewing. Surface beauty becomes a means of registering desire and coaxing viewers into looking and considering our individual and collective responsibility as citizens and consumers regarding this issue and war.
1. Catherine A. MacKinnon, “Turning Rape into Pornography: Postmodern Genocide,” in Mass Rape: The War Against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, ed. Alexandra Stiglmayer (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1994), 73 – 81, especially 76.
During the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, displaced persons living in refugee camps risked attack—possible death for men, rape for women—if they left the camp to gather scarce, needed resources, such as wood. Individuals and families whose homes and villages had been pillaged and razed by Janjaweed militia supported by the northern Khartoum regime suffered further humiliation and brutalization. Violent conflict has continued since Sudan’s formal division into South Sudan, which holds rich oil resources, and Sudan, which lies north of it and houses the pipeline through which the South’s oil is transported for export and on which both depend. The future of those displaced during the genocide in Darfur and more current conflict remains precarious.
In the context of conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo, warring factions fight for control over the country’s mineral wealth as well as the bodies of its citizens—particularly women, so many of whom continue to be violated by militia groups for whom rape is a tool of war. Women often suffer gang rape; perpetrators frequently re-penetrate female victims with objects that create fistulae often leading to incontinence and social isolation and stigma resulting from this condition. Women and sometimes men endure shame within their communities following their victimization. Some are compelled to leave their families. Others are forced into marriage with their perpetrators. Rape becomes a means of attacking and undermining a community’s social structure and gaining control over resources, including gold, diamonds, tin, tantalum, and tungsten, much of the demand for which is fueled by global consumption of electronic goods.
Interview with Megan Kamerick for Women's Focus on NPR station KUNM in conjunction with the exhibition Flatlanders and Surface Dwellers at Albuquerque's 516 ARTS and featuring artist and curator Lea Anderson and artists Jennifer Cawley, Jessica Kennedy, and Alex Craft
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