‘Over the course of two consecutive days, Katrin Koenning will guide participants…
‘Without Consent began with a strong need to create images about trauma to which I had a personal connection. Furthermore, to tell a story and find a link with others who have travelled a similar path in their own history, not as an outsider but as a living witness. The project has helped me come to the realisation that I needed to confront and come to terms with my own experience as a rape survivor. Initially, I thought that this confrontation would be purely photographic and that I would be able to be involved but remain distanced. I was not prepared for the ways in which this project would affect me both mentally and spiritually, and an added feeling of being cleansed of the trauma. The women who came to me as participants in this project also experienced similar feelings of hope and a relief of their shame and a sense of being united through working with me on this project.
Rape is a subject that is too often treated as shameful and taboo. Survivors hold onto their stories, most of us not daring enough to expose and discuss the traumatic events that have occurred. For this project, I looked back at historical stories of rape and sexual abuse in Australia’s early colonialisation period, I was struck by the cycle of similar and related traumatic stories. In nearly 200 years very little has changed. Without Consent aims to raise awareness about this serious matter and explores possible ways that the culture of rape can be broken.
Using weeds and plants from locations of rapes from the past, I have sought to substitute the lingering traces of DNA in the molecules of the soil and air in which the plant has grown for my subjects. This concept has been extended to my contemporary women, by having them physically pull out and hand me the plants they feel represent themselves and their experience.
It is my intention for this project to be ongoing so that any woman who feel the need can connect and reclaim their story through image-making and know they can let go of some of their feelings of shame and join as a community. I can be contacted at email@example.com for further information. You do not need to share any details with me, all I require is a sample of flora. Anything further is up to each participant.’
Noir Darkroom & Gallery. 57 Moreland Road. Coburg. Until 15 November 2020.