Saturday 15 May 2010

(UN)VEILED Exhibition

Here are some pictures of the (UN)VEILED exhibition. It's aim is to raise awareness about sex trafficking. We set it up in a disused shop in Poole's Dolphin Shopping Centre, and from the exterior the exhibition space was made to look like an everyday shop, with the project name, (un)veiled, as the shop name. This brought a sense of deception to the public as they perceived a new shop opening and, attracted to it, walked inside to discover the exhibition. 
Shown here is one of the hand painted goose eggs I contributed to the exhibition.

'Pysanky Eggs' by Michelle Cioccoloni

To highlight the plight of young girls caught up in sex trafficking I have taken the Pysanky egg from Ukraine, a symbol of life and happiness, and, whilst apparently maintaining its beauty, have given it new meaning. The girls, whose lives have been taken away from them, become like Faberge’ Eggs, highly valued possessions which are worth incredible amounts of money, objects to be bought over and over again, but their beauty seen only for its monetary value.  

Here the pattern is rendered in a similar way to Pysanky eggs, but there is no colour; the grey tones used show life being drained away, young girls being stripped of all personal identity, and the repetitive patterns, which from a distance appear very beautiful, reveal, on closer inspection, the brutal and repetitive nature of their ‘job’, and how the act of love loses any meaning and becomes not only a mere sex act, but, ultimately, also a life-threatening one.

The egg itself is a representation of the feelings of a person in this situation. Below the shell, inside the egg, lies the truth of the matter. Since the egg has been painted while raw and dipped in varnish to seal the design, following the Ukrainian tradition, it gradually begins to decompose without smelling, a parallel for the rotting soul of an abused girl who feels she's slowly dying inside whilst maintaining her outer beauty. Throughout the duration of the exhibition the eggs will undergo a similar metamorphosis to the girls' lives, a constant reminder of the ongoing nature of sex trafficking and an incentive to stop it.   

Other artists who contributed work were Chantal Powell and Carinan Blijdenstein, whose sculpture I have shown below. 

Keep You At Arms Length, by Carinan Blijdenstein is a steel and wire piece embodying the figure of an eight year old child (the average age of  child prostitutes world wide). The 7 metal bands protect the 7 most vulnerable parts of the body while the protrusions serve to prod and provoke the viewer. The piece reflects the vulnerability of sex trade victims, their entrapment and resulting torture.

In the back room of the shop visitors could crouch down and pull back a veil looking into a staged room of a sex trafficked victim. Props included a hand written letter to a parent and a mixture of childs belongings and sexual paraphernalia.

For more information about the exhibition follow the unveiled website: