There is no question that domestic violence directed at women is a serious problem. In too many cases of domestic violence, the male is the abusing party.
But what happens when the roles are reversed and the male is in fact the victim? Do men in these situations tend to hesitate to ask for help and support, due to cultural beliefs that dictate that a real man shouldn’t show feelings, but be strong and silent if he wants to be a ‘real man’. And – when help is finally sought – is this request taken seriously or bluntly mocked?
This work is not in any way on a political mission to minimize the seriousness of men’s violence against women. This work focuses on social stigmas surrounding men not reporting intimate partner violence due to their fear of beeing seen as weak and less manly. It is about trying to move societal stereotypes and stiff assumptions concerning gender.
In a sense, this work is an examination of the hidden. It seeks to shed light and inspire new ways of thinking and dealing with domestic violence.
The work will culminate in a touring exhibition with photographs and a collection of video interviews, where at least fifteen different men with their own words will express their experiences of being in an abusive relationship.
During the exhibitions, experts in the field of domestic violence, researchers and social workers will be invited to take part in discussions and debates. Media will also be invited to these events.
Abused men as a topic of research and artistic work is controversial. It should not be. Violence in all forms are equally bad.
I photograph and videofilm men in the nordic countries that are victims of domestic violence, meaning physical, sexual or psychological violence. I expect some men to find this page and through it make contact with me.
Since the Finnish and Scandinavian languages have very little in common, the language on this page will be English.
In the video interviews each man tells about his experience recorded in his mother tongue with subtitles in english. All men can, if they want to, remain anonymous in both video and photographs.
From each video interview I make a photograph. I take words and sentences and sew them onto fabrics that I place in forests and on oak trees. The oak has a special symbolic value related to masculinity and the expression for a man “to be sturdy as an oak” has been used for men as an ideal to strive for and in a more critical context, sometimes together with the female “the clinging vine”, used to analyze stereotypical masculine and female characteristics of strength and independence vs weakness and dependence.
I am an artist and not a professional therapist. The men who take part in this project should have a healthy distance to their own incidents and some time should have passed since their traumatic experiences. Ideally they should also have gotten some professional help before taking part in the project.
In my artistic work I explore cultural and traditional ways of expressing masculinity from different angles. One goal is to open up new perspectives on the traditionally familiar and persistent images of masculinity.
I am looking for men from all over the country, not only inside the capitals, but men from different age groups and from different backgrounds.