Ila, 'There can be no touching here', 2020
There can be no touching here is an ongoing project that explores how we consume and disseminate information on assault. The title serves as a riff on the “no touching” rule common in art galleries, while placing emphasis on honouring consent and boundaries in our interactions. Conceived as a site-specific presentation, it features a mind map and three fabric banners installed along a public corridor in the exhibition gallery. These document recurrent lapses across existing representations of assault and propose the need for greater accountability.
What do we recognise as harm?
How can we activate ourselves as a body of resources to remedy gaps in addressing assault?
How do we practice healing beyond punitive and legal structures?
Led by these guiding questions, Ila’s project examines the representation of assault across media and how we may reshape language to lend credence to the lived realities of assault and harm. In tandem, the project hopes to make space for reparation by affirming strategies of care beyond what is afforded by the criminal justice system. It reflects upon existing and new pathways for action, actively addressing and reducing instances of harm. The first banner examines and annotates a news article to consider how assault is framed by specific language and omissions. The middle banner demonstrates how comments on social media can further invalidate experiences of assault while also citing meaningful examples that reorient the conversations. The last banner highlights the importance of moving towards care and repair through collective action and communal support for survivors. Accompanying the banners is a projection of a mind map that collates different perspectives on harm and provides ways of recognising and navigating it.
There can be no touching here is a continuation of together, we go over what is not over, presented at The Substation’s Concerned Citizens Programme on Social Mobility in 2019. This earlier iteration of the project took the form of sharing sessions which identified gaps within arts and academic communities in fielding resources and measures to counter the perpetuation of assault.
This project is jointly presented as part of the two exhibitions in Proposal for Novel Ways of Being: An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season and Time Passes.
This work was realised in collaboration with Izyanti Asa'ari
Disclaimer: This case study serves an educational purpose to critically reflect on language widely used in framing sexual assault. There is no intention to dispute or discredit the journalist or any verdicts meted out by the courts that may have similar details to the referenced case.
Content includes explicit mentions of sexual assault. Viewer discretion is advised.