Tanja – Painting the Perpetrator
Which student are you?
Name of School
University of Latvia
Grade / Year in School
Master 4th semester
Location (City, State/Province, Country)
If you identify with an ethnicity or culture(s), which one or ones do you identify with?
What is the name of your legal guardian/parent (if under 18)?
Please provide contact information for your legal guardian/parent (if under 18)
What are your social media accounts (TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook)?
Facebook: Tanja Thaller. https://www.facebook.com/tanja.thaller.10
Please select type of project you are entering
What is the title of your project?
Painting the Perpetrator
Please tell us about your submission (maximum 600 words)
This art project is based both on my personal experience and the need for a drastic change within our patriarchal society. My project submission is in form of a power point including both the same description as here as well as my actual art pieces and a description of a wider project I aim at initiating with the idea. The background: Due to the patriarchal system perpetrators often are not made accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, I have become the witness of this phenomena myself. With 18 years old I was raped for the first time, now at 24 it has been 7 men and repeated experiences of sexual assault. After the May incidents I approached lawyers and his employer because for the first time I had some evidence of his attacks. An internal investigation was started by his employer. I was encouraged to take the case to court. However, so far, I do not have the energy to start any legal action. I am on medication and visiting a social worker. Psychotherapy currently does not work for me. Instead I found a way of processing my emotions through the medium of art. By exposing my assaulters I found a way to regain the control over them and my memories of them. Additionally, I felt the need to show that these men look friendly on the surface level. I want to show that if it is true, that every fifth women worldwide is raped, then the number of rapists is worryingly high. As long as we do not start the public discussion on the rapists and other predators in our society, we cannot find a way how to understand their motivations and ways in which their actions could be prevented. The following paintings are of my own violators. For legal reasons I do not mention their names. I have not painted the May rapist as the pain is still too intense to tackle. Additionally, I realized that in statistics concerning this matter the focus tends to be on survivors, and not on the actual perpetrators. Moreover, due to lack of evidence or the survivor’s state of emotional as well as lack of information on how to act after an attack, many assaulters are not taken to court. Instead they remain free within society and sometimes are unaware of the harm they caused; or as one of my friends said: “Why is it us who have to go to therapy and not them?”. While I cannot change the legal system or create an extensive informative and supportive network which educates all members of society of what actually counts as consent and how survivors, as well as people contemplating assaults may find help, - I can instigate a long-needed discussion on the issue with my art project. The aim of this project, therefore, is to - change the discourse on assault to one that also shows the prevalence of perpetrators within society and works on an understanding of why assaulters assault and what can be done to prevent them -> would therapy help? - expose perpetrators - demonstrate that they may look like friendly people and we shouldn’t misjudge survivors’ claims based on assumed innocence - Help survivors emotionally process their experience via the medium of art The same information is also available on the slides of the power point in a shortened form. Perpetrators in my paintings cannot be recognized by face recognition technology. People knowing the assaulters may recognize them and potentially change their opinions on them.
What is something you learned about patriarchy and what is something you would like to change about what you learned?
I learnt that women's voices are often not heard or not taken serious. Too often perpetrators use this to their advantage as they know the women's experience may not be believed. One consequence of this is that many survivors suffer in silence while their abusers feel no repercussions. I definitely want to change this.
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