“I chose this topic, the second chapter of A History of Misogyny, in the same way as the first chapter On Abortion.
It was triggered by a local news story that impressed me deeply. In 2018 five men who had gang-raped an 18-year-old woman were initially set free by the Spanish Court after being sentenced for abuse rather than rape. This would eventually call into question Spanish legislation and spark the largest feminist protest in the country’s history.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, I wanted to understand why some institutional structures of justice, law and policy were not only failing survivors, but actually encouraging perpetrators through their preservation of particular power dynamics and social norms. By looking back to at history, I could identify gender-based stereotypes and myths, global prejudices and misconceptions, that have prevailed and perpetuated the culture of rape.
Through a painstaking research on the miscarriages of justice and attitudes of victim-blaming, this work is a personal analysis of cultural, social and political contexts around the world, that still normalise sexual violence today.”
Laia Abril’s exhibition “On Rape” is the second chapter to her project A History of Misogyny. It expands her ongoing visual archive of the systemic control of women’s bodies across time and cultures.
Abril focuses on the institutional rape throughout a series of conceptual portraits, that together with their testimonies symbolises the different systemic rape cultures — inside marriage, the church, the army or the school.
In this occasion, Abril uses history to track back the origin of the laws and beliefs — from marry-your-rapist law, rape as a weapon of war, the construction of virginity or the genesis of rape schedule — reacting to her research journey with a personal audio-visual essay.
Laia Abril (Spain, 1986) is a research-based artist working with photography, text, video and sound.
After graduating from college with a degree in Journalism she moved to New York to focus on photography where she decided to start telling intimate stories that raise uneasy and hidden realities related with sexuality, eating disorders and gender equality.
Abril’s projects are produced across platforms such as installations, books, web docs, and films. Her work has been shown wildy and published internationally and is held in private collections and museums, such as Musée de l’Elysée and Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland.
She has published several books, among them Thinspiration (self-published, 2012), Tediousphilia (Musée de l’Elysée, 2014) and the highly- acclaimed The Epilogue (Dewi Lewis, 2014).
After completing her five-year project On Eating Disorders, Abril embarked on her new long-term project, A History of Misogyny. Its first chapter “On Abortion” was first exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2016. The show has been exhibited in more than 10 countries including The Photographers Gallery (London) and in the Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb).
The book On Abortion and the repercussions of lack of access (Dewi Lewis, 2018) was the winner of the Aperture Best Book Award in 2018 as well as finalist of the prestigious Deutsche Börse in 2019. Abril is currently developing the next chapters, “On Rape”.
Abril is based in Barcelona and represented by the Parisian gallery Les Filles du Calvaire.