Event: Photographer Laia Abril - "A History of Misogyny"
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, 16 March 2023, at Fritt Ord premises at Uranienborgveien 2, Oslo: The Norwegian Journal of Photography and Fritt Ord invite the public to attend a seminar featuring photographer Laia Abril. For quite some time, the Spanish photographer has worked with the project “A History of Misogyny”, a trilogy, together with the books “On Abortion” and “On Rape”, and the final volume, planned for this year: “Mass Hysteria”.
On Thursday, you will get a chance to meet Laia Abril, who documents and interprets society’s view of women, women’s rights and, not least, the culture of violence to which women continue to be exposed.
Laia shares intimate stories that deal with hidden realities associated with topics such as women’s sexuality, eating disorders and equality. After completing her five-year project “On Eating Disorders”, she has more recently been working intently with her trilogy, “A History of Misogyny”. The project addresses several sub-topics. The first volume was published in 2019, the second in 2022 and the third is scheduled for 2023.
“On Abortion” documents and conceptualises the dangers and injuries caused by women’s lack of legal, safe and free access to abortion.
“On Rape” aspires to tell the story of and shed light on the institutional rape culture that is commonplace in societies the world over.
“Mass Hysteria” is a new chapter in “A History of Misogyny”, in which the photographer renders visible the collective pain felt by girls and women after years of oppression, extreme pressure and being in situations in which they are not able to communicate or express thoughts and feelings. The book tells how women have been controlled through the notion of hysteria.
In her book entitled “On Rape and Institutional Failure”, volume two in the series, Abril takes the reader on a visual journey through the history of rape, shedding light on the underlying social structures.
After five men who had gang raped an 18-year-old girl during the festival of San Fermín in the Spanish city of Pamplona – and filmed the assault – were found not guilty of rape in 2018, the photographer adopted an even more finely honed angle on her project.
“I realised that what interested me, other than how I should or should not render visible victims of sexualised violence, is how our institutions fail us”, explained the photographer in an interview with the magazine D2 in 2022.
She does not take portraits of the victims. Instead, she interviews professionals about historic facts and presents the testimonies of the victims. She also takes photos of representative garments and objects. She stated to D2:
“I realised that documentary photos, photojournalism and media generally put tremendous pressure on these individuals’ private lives. The exposure is almost tantamount to a second trial.
In other words, to avoid a narrative that assigns blame to victims and survivors, Abril decided not to make portraits of them.
“Had I shown the victims, the female body could once again be seen as some sort of evidence to explain the crime. Of course, that is the typical old narrative where the blame and shame are on the victim”, she remarks.
The first volume of the trilogy, “On Abortion”, was published in 2019, and the third volume is scheduled for publication in 2023.
Abril has published several books: Thinspiration (2012), Tediousphilia (Musée de l’Elysée, 2014), The Epilogue (Dewi Lewis, 2014) and Lobismuller (2016). Her projects are on exhibit in more than 13 countries, inter alia at the Photographers’ Gallery (London), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb), el Centro de la Imagen (Mexico) and the Museum of Sex (New York).