Online artshow focuses on increase in domestic abuse during pandemic

A new Brighton exhibition turns the focus on domestic abuse during the coronavirus crisis.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 12:00 pm
Work by Lidia Lidia
Work by Lidia Lidia

Gaslighting — On Domestic Abuse At The Time Of Covid-19 comes from the Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS), running online at https://www.seasbrighton.org/gaslight until the end of January.

Spokeswoman Charlotte Graham-Spouge explains: “The Shadow Pandemic—this is how domestic abuse has been described by the UN in the face of the dramatic rise in domestic violence as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdowns.

“In the United Kingdom, the UN reported that calls, emails, and website visits to Respect, a national domestic violence charity, had increased 97 per cent, 185 per cent and 581 per cent, respectively. As a response to this, the Socially Engaged Art Salon launches Gaslighting, an exhibition curated by artist and activist Miranda Gavin with work by artists who are survivors of domestic abuse including those who witnessed abuse as children. The exhibition also includes the result of an open-call poster competition aiming to raise awareness of the subject and a zine, Tough Cookie, featuring the artists’ works, inter-views and poetry. The selected artists Tee Chandler, Miranda Gavin, Lidia Lidia, Mooncoin, Ellen Nolan, Laura Noble, Pacheanne Anderson and Susan Young use photography, film, animation, performance, and painting. It showcases creative approaches that combine media and collapse boundaries between the public and the private. For some of the artists, this is the first time they have made the work public, so the use of pseudonyms offers protection.”

Miranda Gavin explains: “The exhibition’s title Gaslighting refers to a form of emotional abuse that can lead a person to question their sanity. This is a common type of domestic abuse that has been experienced by some of the artists participating in the exhibition. The art works selected not only deal with various types of abuse, but also focus on the processing of trauma and on healing, especially as they are all personal projects.” Contemplating the choice to include only artists with direct experience of domestic abuse, she said: “Each artist’s perspective is unique and the creative strategies used vary, but the lived experience of abusive power and control in the domestic context of intimate relationships gives brave and vital insights into the experience of ordinary people.

“I believe that amplifying their voices through the art they create provides a better understanding of the issue than relying solely on the media’s stories of celebrities facing abuse, police reports and statistical data.”

The virtual exhibition can be viewed on www.seasbrighton.org and the Tough Cookie zine, which is dedicated to the exhibition, can be purchased online via a link on SEAS’s website.

The phrase gaslighting derives from the 1938 play, Gas Light, by the British dramatist Patrick Hamilton and the 1944 George Cukor film of the same name.

Charlotte explains: “Domestic abuse is when one person mistreats another in the context of home as part of a household, family, or in marriage and intimate relationships. It comes in different forms — physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological— and includes the mistreatment of older family members or a child.”