Sussex exhibition explores the Shadow Pandemic of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse in the time of Covid-19 is the focus of The Shadow Pandemic, a new exhibition at Brighton’s Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS).

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 7:05 am
The Shadow Pandemic: Lidia Lidia - stopdomesticabuse

The exhibition is online at http://www.seasbrighton.org

Spokeswoman Charlotte Graham-Spouge said: “The Shadow Pandemic—this is how domestic abuse has been described by the UN in the face of the dramatic rise in domestic violence as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdowns.

“In the United Kingdom, the UN (June 12 2020) reported that calls, emails, and website visits to Respect, a national domestic violence charity, had increased 97 per cent, 185 per cent and 581 per cent, respectively. As a response to this, the Socially Engaged Art Salon launched Gaslighting, an exhibition curated by artist and activist Miranda Gavin with work by artists who are survivors of domestic abuse including those who witnessed abuse as children.

“Following on from our January exhibition, we are displaying the result of an open-call poster competition aiming to raise awareness of the subject. The new exhibition entitled The Shadow Pandemic features 12 posters against domestic abuse which will be on display at the Jubilee Library and Black and Minority Ethnic Partnership (BMECP), Brighton from the March 17-April 14 (in the windows yes so visible from the outside).

The exhibition features Daya Bhatti, Federico Gallo, Victoria Forrest, Susan Plover, Suchitra Chatterjee, O. Yemi Tubi, Margaret Fitzgibbon, Dhara Mariani, Ross Clifford, James Shreeve, Mandy Segal and Parumveer Walia alongside the two winning artists; Lidia Lidia and Benji Appleby-Tyler.”

Miranda added: “Gaslighting refers to a form of emotional abuse that can lead a person to question their sanity. This is a common type of domestic abuse that has been experienced by some of the artists participating in the exhibition. The art works selected not only deal with various types of abuse, but also focus on the processing of trauma and on healing, especially as they are all personal projects.

“Each artist’s perspective is unique and the creative strategies used vary, but the lived experience of abusive power and control in the domestic context of intimate relationships gives brave and vital insights into the experience of ordinary people. I believe that amplifying their voices through the art they create provides a better understanding of the issue than relying solely on the media’s stories of celebrities facing abuse, police reports, and statistical data.”

Joint winner of the competition, Lidia Lidia says “Between February and March 2020, along with the media incessantly reminding us of the necessity to isolate and lockdown to fight Covid-19, new hashtags were invented to build awareness and to push the collective to unite and fight the invisible, deadly enemy.

“With an unprecedented speed, hashtags such as #stay-home and #staysafe took over Instagram. Within just this one year, there have been tens of millions of posts using these hashtags. These numbers contrast with those for hashtags such as #stopviolenceagainstwomenandgirls, #stopvawg, #stopdomesticviolence and #stopdomestica-buse which have now been circulating for almost as long as Instagram; posts using these hashtags to date generally number in the few thousands. But violence against women and girls was a pandemic long before the outbreak of Covid-19.”

Lydia Lydia’s work, #StopTheVirus, was displayed on three 48 sheet billboards hanging in Brighton, Christchurch and Portsmouth from January 9-23 as well as the Black and Ethnic Minority Partnership in Brighton.