Tuesday, February 13, 2007Home

Benefit Photography Exhibition combines glamour and activism

London-based fashion photographer and filmmaker Rankin has created a series of portraits for the act campaign, a project to raise awareness of domestic violence started at the beginning of the month by Women's Aid, the UK's domestic violence charity. At a first look, the photographs depict women with bruised and battered faces, until one realizes that there are a few famous faces included. All of the women—including Anne Marie-Duff and Honor Blackman—are UK celebrities made up to look like victims of domestic violence. The images look very convincing, and get the point across.

From the Women's Aid website:

With Rankin's emotive pictures and Marian Keyes' empathetic text, our aim is to highlight the fact that it could and does happen to all types of women—regardless of class or education.

The images themselves are striking, but I can't help but be reminded of Nan Goldin's famous self-portrait, Nan one month after being battered (caution: horrific image ahead. But then again, that's the whole point). In Rankin's series, the women come across as noble and beautiful, despite the black eyes and split lips. In her self-portrait, Goldin's image is neither of these things, but its honesty and authenticity make it unforgettable. I understand the need to appeal to people's interest in celebrity, and it's great to see a glamour photographer embark on such a unique project for raising social awareness. We could all learn from Goldin, though, who exposes so much of what most of us would rather go on pretending doesn't exist.

You can view Rankin's gallery (even though the images are puny) here.

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