In recent years many of the projects I’ve worked on have involved the creation of signs, and in the case of the ghost bike project– signs and a corresponding map to mark the location of each ghost bike and the person it honors. I was deeply affected a few years ago when I learned of a rape map that was created by a woman in 2004 in response to several rapes in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn. The project evolved into NYC SafeStreets, which includes a map of locations where the rapes had taken place, and also provides a resource section, along with a list of businesses that have agreed to be safe havens and provide assistance if one is in danger, indicated by a poster with a yellow whistle which is taped to the window. Other resources such as a list of car services and police precint locations, sexual assault hotlines, and know-your-rights info.
A while back I started making stencils of the famous image of Janet Leigh screaming in the shower in the movie Psycho. I was drawn to this image for many reasons- one being that it has a lot of notoriety in pop culture as a scene where you can’t really turn your head away from the violence- but at the same time it is really exaggerated and undermines the reality that assault against women whether harassment on the street by strangers, or violence done by someone you know is commonplace and normalized.
One night I spraypainted the stencil in Bushwick with Kristine. It was kind of a girl’s night out. Walking around in the dark doing illegal activity has it’s own danger involved, but it’s always in the back of my mind that I am a target for violence. I never intended to spraypaint the stencil in specific locations where known instances of sexual assault had occurred, but we were walking around in a pretty desolate area with no safe places for cover. When I walked back to the spots I’d gone to in the daylight I found the image expressed a message that was lurking around in my subconscious- I was marking my territory and I wanted to travel these streets safely. I am always on guard but I am not helpless.
A woman was raped by a stranger on this block. Please protect your friends, lover, sister, daughter, mother, grandmother, niece, cousin, neighbor, the woman hear call for help late one night. 1 in 6 women in the his country have been victims of rape or attempted rape. This needs to stop happening