Dr. Katharina Koch
Co-director and chief curator of the feminist art space alpha nova kulturwerkstatt & galerie futura, Berlin
it goes on – and on – and on
is the title of the first solo catalogue of Renate Bühn, an artist who has made everyday sexualised violence against girls* and boys* – and society’s marginalisation of the issue – the focus of her work. The title highlights the persistance of sexualised violence, society’s failure to face up to it, and its continuing relevance today; and also the fact that the artist has shown unfailing commitment to raising awareness of the issue, by keeping it in the public eye for almost twenty years.
The family, the church and wartime are only some of the main contexts in which sexualised violence can be perpetrated over many years, often in secret and unpunished. The men* and women* who perpetrate this crime are mostly protected – specifically, by their own families or, more generally, by society’s tendency to turn a blind eye to the crime and accept sexist court verdicts that downplay its severity.
Art and its potential to turn the spotlight on the exposure of children and young people to sexualised violence
Prof. Dr. Sabine Andresen, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main
Educational scientist; pursues research on children, poverty and the family; is Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Sexual Child Abuse in Germany
"How many pearls it takes to be happy…" and how fragile happiness is, when children are exposed to sexualised violence. In muted shades, the artist Renate Bühn paints in oils a girl lost in her own world. She is threading pearls. At the edge of the frame is an ashtray. The colours and composition, the child’s posture and the expression on her face signalise an exceptional state under seemingly normal circumstances.
How difficult it is – even later, in adult life – to put into words a child’s experience of sexualised violence: so many attempts fail, because no one listens to or believes the child, or because family life continues as normal, punching holes in a youngster’s body and soul.