“What Were You Wearing” is an exhibition promoted by the University of Kansas from a project by Jen Brockman and Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, exhibited for the first time at the
University of Arkansas from March 31st to April 4th 2013.
The association “Libere Sinergie” intends to replicate in Italy, contextualizing it to our socio-cultural environment.
It is a project to raise awareness of violence against women that starts from a question
asked to those who suffer harassment or sexual violence: “How were you dressed?”
Specifically, the project sees the creation of a very simple set-up that presents some stories of abused women and it shows the outfits they wore at that moment, not the real ones, but the garments that are a likely representation.
How were you dressed? it is a question that too often is addressed to women who have
suffered sexual violence. The question, which underlies serious sexist stereotypes and
prejudices, has heavy implications and a negative impact on the woman who has suffered violence, since it presupposes the idea that the victim could have avoided rape if she wore less succinct or less sexy clothes. This exhibition aims to dismantle this prejudice.
The exhibition entitled What Were You Wearing? part of the short story of 16 stories of sexual violence that are placed next to the clothes on display, who want to represent in a faithful way the clothing that the woman wore at the time of sexual violence. ”Libere Sinergie” will present the stories in four languages: Italian, English, Spanish and French.
Jen Brockman stated that the main purpose of the show What Were You Wearing? it is the promotion of greater awareness of sexual violence and the need to combat the secondary blame for victims. “Visitors can enter the gallery and see themselves reflected not only in the displayed clothes but also in the stories”. She adds that: “It is necessary to provoke reactions within the exhibition space similar to those reported” by inducing visitors to think “Damn, I have these clothes hanging in my closet” or “I was dressed like that this week”.
In this way the stereotypes that lead us to think that by removing some clothes from our wardrobes or avoiding wearing them, we could eliminate sexual violence. That’s what’s all about, remove the idea that the elimination of rape can be done simply by not wearing some clothes.”
Jen Brockman said that the reactions to the show were decidedly positive: “when the victims cross the show, their first expressions are often confirmed and they share with the organizers phrases like”: “this was my dress”, “what is hanging on this wall is exactly what I wore “,” this is my story “,” that story is exactly what happened to me “.
Brockman adds: “It is not the dress you are wearing that causes sexual violence, but it is a person who causes harm. Being able to give serenity to the victims and arouse greater
awareness in the public and in the community are the true motivations of the project “.
The association ‘’Libere Sinergie’’ intends to replicate this exhibition within the metropolitan context, with the same intent as the promoters of the exhibition in the United States, that is to disassemble the stereotypes that blame victims of rape and raise awareness about the issue in a society still too steeped in violence and sexual abuse.
This exhibition therefore has as its objectives both an indirect intervention of “care” on the victims, which can realize and become aware that sexual violence was not caused by the clothes they wore, and develop a greater knowledge of the phenomenon and the
stereotypes that justify it.
Libere Sinergie intends to bring the exhibition to different places in the metropolitan city, from 8 March to 25 November, two symbolic dates for the fight against gender violence and for women’s rights.
First appointment 8-11 March
The Art Land space at La Fabbrica del Vapore
via Procaccini, 4 – Milan
In the following months the installation will be brought in different areas of the territory
frequented daily by citizens.
The exhibition itinerary will end on November 25th and on this occasion Libere Sinergie will expose the results achieved.
All the dates and places of the exhibition will be published on the website
http://www.liberesinergie.org and on Facebook @liberesinergie
Brochure in english here.