The Rapist Lives On

1999 | Flies, wood, shellac, acrylic paint | 2 x 36 x 36 cm

In “The Rapist Lives On”, I once again draw on the potent symbolism of flies. In earlier iconography, flies symbolised the work of the devil. The flies here stand for the repulsion that sexualised violence makes a child feel.
The dead flies are a threatening presence that fill in the space where there should be a face. Together with paint, they make it impossible to identify the silhouette’s features. They make it anonymous, unable to be recognised, just as abused girls* and boys* say they are unable to recognise the perpetrator-father or other familiar person/abuser who has broken their trust.
Here, I used the silhouette of my own father-perpetrator. This work expresses the cynicism with which victims-survivors of abuse are confronted, day after day, given that HE is able to live on as before, in most cases safely integrated in family life.

“Renate Bühn has been there herself. She knows only too well how it feels to be a victim-survivor when silence reigns in a family that knows what is going on and when ill deeds go unpunished. – ‘The perpetrator lived until his death with a family that was in the know.’ – These are the words she speaks into the mike before the assembled guests at the opening of her exhibition at the Konkordien [Church] in Mannheim – and her words have a long echo, just as her artworks do.”

Source: Angela Boll, Mannheimer Morgen 10.03.2014


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