Silent Tears was originally funded by The Australia Council for the Arts and curated by Kon Gouriotis OAM, and launched at the 2015 Ballarat International Foto Festival by Sue Salthouse of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Panel to Reduce Violence Against Women. The exhibition grew from the original 10 women to 20 Australian women and an additional 28 women internationally with the support of CAB International. In March 2016, Silent Tears co-hosted a parallel event with the Australian Government, Australian Human Rights Commission and CBM International as part of the 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, USA. In April 2016, artists Belinda and Denise presented with CBM at the UN in Geneva to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In April 2016, the exhibition was displayed at the Sydney University Law Library and was accompanied by a Sydney Ideas discussion panel. In October 2016, Silent Tears featured at the Berlin Photography Biennale. From November 2016 – Jan 2017, the exhibition was shown at MAMA, Australia. In July 2017, a selection of works is to be shown at the Venice Biennale. on was shown at MAMA, Australia. In July 2017, a selection of works was shown during the Venice Biennale. In 2018, the work was shown in New York across three galleries, and in conjunction with the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Silent Tears co-hosted a side event with the UN Women National Committee Australia
Film and photography have a well-regarded role in bringing the plight of silent victims into focus, providing a powerful opportunity for understanding and action. The participants of Silent Tears have collaborated as protagonists with the three artists, creating works based on the stories of women with disability who have been subjected to violence. Bearing witness to the realities of lives of these women should be uncomfortable and challenging for audiences. When women with disability find the courage to speak about the violence that they have experienced, they often find themselves forgotten or simply left out of the conversation. Silent Tears gives them the opportunity to tell you exactly how they feel.
Exposure to violence can normalise the situation for the perpetrator, victim and the audience. Silent Tears intentionally maintains a constant pressure through its curatorial approach. Each woman was photographed by each of the three artists.
The viewer first sees Denise’s documentary black and white photographs, which illustrate the everyday lives of the women. They are portrayed at home, with family or friends, in scenes that are familiar to us all. Beside each image, each story can be read, and as the viewer does so, they can hear the eerie sound of water and chimes.
The viewer moves into the second part of the exhibition, where artist, Belinda has focused on the moment when silent tears fall. These are internal portraits rather than external ones. The photographs are produced as large suspended images, which freeze the moment capturing the viewer within it. The transparent materials, on which the images were printed, reflect the invisible yet visible nature of violence against women. As the viewer walks around the artworks, they can hear each woman speak the words read earlier.
In the multi-screen video installation by artist Dieter, the still portraits come alive, and the viewer can see and hear all women move and speak at once along with the sounds of the water and chimes. This is significant, as, if women were to stay silent, they would remain voiceless. Without their stories heard, they are invisible. For those who listen, it is also hard, especially when the stories are difficult to hear and often impossible to imagine.
We cannot argue when someone says,”I feel”, – it is not our right. It is part of our own journey to learn empathy rather than compassion. Our own reaction, exposes us to ourselves, and our ability to listen when someone lays their naked soul in our path.
Silent Tears has touched many raw nerves, and support has been made available for the viewers, participants and artists. The images that we have created, are shown in the community where the participants live, shining a torch into the dark corners that many would prefer no light was shed. The images do not portray violence, but they don’t need to, instead they captivate you with a familiar intimacy before revealing a hidden truth.
There are several components to the exhibition, we are happy to collaborate with curators and venues to present a selection of the works, to ensure the integrity and intent of the project is aligned.
• 50 laser prints Duro Clear 100 x 67cm images on clear perspex – suspended from the gallery ceiling (Artist: Belinda Mason)
• 50 framed 50 x 61cm black and white documentary images – using standard gallery D ring hanging system (Artists: Margherita Coppolino and Denise Beckwith)
• a video installation with 20 ipads, can be presented as a single loop projection or monitor (Artist: Dieter Knierim)
• online app for people with sensory, cognitive and learning impairments
• artwork hard and soft copy of text panels for each artwork
• catalog, including essays by artists participants and key figures
• media kit, including press release, 6 images, fact sheet, artist bios and project outline
• graphic design templates for invitations and posters
• education kit or forum discussion outline