Sitting in a cold, cramped, warmly lit room gazing at a year of my life in paint and canvas and quiet faces is, well, causing palpitations. Touch-ups and varnishing aside, I’m finished. And yet, it is now that the work begins. Funny, seeing as all I would like in this moment is to construct a fort and spend an unseemly amount of time curled in a cat-like ball sleeping.
One year and 10 days later I have a series of paintings that have changed me in such a visceral way that I can’t remember exactly who I was before the path of my life collided irrevocably and at times dangerously with the lives of these women. This is all for them and at times we would fight like old friends. I’m ashamed to say that there have been times where I have felt bitter, bewildered and bat-shit crazy for starting what I started. In 14 days, you too will be able to see what has forced me into a hermitage and made me seriously question my own sanity on numerous occasions. Before being unveiled here on this website dedicated to them, they will be shown for 2 weeks in my hometown in the window of a vacant building. Every passerby of the city centre premise will peripherally or intentionally see these women and hopefully take note of the far broader issue they represent.
Fear is not an adequate word. Fear is manageable, fear of embarrassment, fear of distaste, fear of disinterest – all of these things I could handle. My fear is that while I have been locked up forming relationships with women who I will never know I am unable to see whether I have in fact done what I set out to do. Justice to these women, their lives, their deaths, their unattainable stories. If I have failed them, I have failed. They are the beginning and they are the end and everything else is unimportant. When I began, there were 2,007 US Jane Doe’s, today there are 2,137. This isn’t going away and it’s getting worse.
I was asked if Blink. had a single most important message what would it be. What is the point? What purpose do these women play and what is the story these anonymous women have to tell? I had to think. In a year of thousands of words and thousands of paint strokes this project, like the body of work itself, grew in volume, in sheer weight of meaning and in stories to be told. So to hone this ever-expanding blade back down to it’s sharpest point took time and reflection.
Each of these 18 Jane Doe’s represent the millions, even billions, of other women throughout history and across the world who have been stripped of their identity, stripped of their potential and stripped of their value.
Much of the developed world objectifies and diminishes a woman’s worth to her dress size and much of the developing world ignores that women are their single greatest untapped resource.
There are over 4.4 million female sex slaves worldwide – that is almost the entire population of the Republic of Ireland as slaves. Jane Doe found on 09.11.1998 represents these women.
Over 130 million women alive today are survivors of female genital mutilation or female genital cutting usually between infancy and the age of 15 – this is the population of France and the United Kingdom combined. By destroying the female sexual organs it is believed these girls will be easier to control. Jane Doe found on 10.11.1979 represents these women and girls.
Today, 2.6 billion women live in countries where rape within marriage is not a crime – this is over twice the population of North and South America combined. This is not to mention the billions of women living in both developed and developing countries where rape, in general, is given the blind eye. Jane Doe found on 07.12.1991 represents these women.
700 million women alive today were married as children (under 18) and over a third of these women were married before the age of 15 – this is close to the entire population of Europe. Jane Doe found on the 10.8.1982 represents these women and girls.
Half the Sky Movement reports that globally, women aged between 15 and 45 are more likely to die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Every single Jane Doe represents these women.
We are still living in a time when whatever way you look at it 50% of the world’s population are not equal based on their gender. Each and every Jane Doe in the world represents these women.
This is the quintessential message of Blink .and I only hope you join me in spreading this message as far as it can possibly reach with the hope that even one woman’s life may be changed for the better by the sacrifice of these disposable women.
Sources: Half the Sky Movement , UN Women