Melbourne artist Sophia Hewson filmed herself getting raped by a stranger in her New York apartment to show what a male dominated society means. She invited the stranger to her apartment for an exhibition and recorded the three-minute video which she called a “self-orchestrated rape representation.”
Hewson arranged for a stranger to have intercourse with her on camera at home for the “work” which has been titled “are you ok bob?” All throughout the video, the camera focused on the artist’s face and showed only the hands and the arms of her rapist.
While the confronting scene was planned and choreographed by the Melbourne artist, the rape itself was unsimulated. Hewson, 31, said that her latest work, which she called a “militant feminist” piece, was an effort to challenge the patriarchy and hoped it helped to dismantle the power enjoyed by men in society.
“The raped woman, still today, is nearly always represented with her face down and her eyes averted,” The Sydney Morning Herald quoted her as saying. “The most confronting aspect of ‘are you ok bob?’ isn’t watching as a woman is struck or penetrated, it’s seeing her look back out at us from the experience. She looks accusingly as a subject, not an object.”
She added that “Central to this work is also the idea that rape is more than an unwanted sexual act, that it is the foundation for the entire institution of the patriarchy, and hence it is the crucial battleground for dismantling male power.”
Mail Online reported that according to the Melbourne artist, she also wanted to find out about the way the victims of rape are impacted long after the attack. Hewson, who was a finalist for the Archibald Prize in 2014 and 2015, wrote in an artist statement, “Are our cultural approaches to the subject an unconscious championing of male power?”
She added, “How much do our social constructs contribute to (and perpetuate) the trauma of women post-rape?” She said that people sympathise with a rape victim when she not known to them. If she is someone they know, they either want her to stay quiet or not believe her.