𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨, from the Bodies of Wood series
Analog C print
14 x 14 inches
20 x 20 inches Framed
About the series:
Bodies of Wood is series of self-portraits exploring my relationship to my father, who was incarcerated ten years ago for a sexual offense against a 13 year-old boy. What was left out of the criminal investigation was the abuse he directed against his wife and daughters; abuse against women that was protected by the institution of the heterosexual family. There was never any legal intervention, or any justice, for what my father did to me.
In Bodies of Wood, I used the camera to transform experiences deemed unspeakable. Within the photographic frame, I found a way to express emotions that were excluded from other cultural processes of healing. Each self-portrait became a performative ritual for the camera. I worked alone with a vintage Yashica and a remote cable release, putting my nude body into public and domestic landscapes in order to feel – and have power over – how I was framed. I sought a pure jouissance: a pleasure in my own labor of creation that was inseparable from, and deepened by, pain.
I worked with bright colors and soft light to evoke the dream-like hyperreality of the traumatic memory, vividly emblazoned yet always distorted. I used the suggestive symbolism of the home, finding sinister shadows and phallic protrusions amongst its ordinary objects. I posed nude to capture the simultaneous empowerment and vulnerability of my body, yet I defiantly turned my gaze away from the camera, or cut my head out of the frame. This posture is both an act of refusal, touching on the power of “no” for victims of sexual violence, while also underscoring how victim’s bodies are made faceless to dehumanize them. By making these experiences public, I saw something beyond testimony. These images were acts of transformative justice.
Rowan Renee, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨
Rowan Renee’s photography practice is focused on the representation of feminine and queer bodies. Using color film and an analog C-print process, Renee captures raw images that maintain vibrancy and allude to themes of desire, shame, and rage. Renee uses their own personal story to inform their work: addressing issues of sexual assault, what it means to be gender queer and seeking equality, and the current political and social discourse around gender-based violence which remains in the margins of mainstream discussions.
Rowan Renee is currently based in both Brooklyn, New York and Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have been profiled The New York Times, Hyperallergic, and American Photo Magazine, and their work has been collected both privately and publicly by institutions such as the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. In 2018 their work was included in the exhibition On Adornment at Pen + Brush.