Laia Abril’s The History of Misogyny wins Foam award in a poignant week
It’s no coincidence the Barcelona-born photographer has won the Paul Huf prize for her unflinching documentary of rape in the week Weinstein is convicted.
- Jenny Brewer
- 12 March 2020
- Reading Time
- 2 minute read
Laia Abril has won the prestigious Foam Paul Huf Award 2020, awarded annually by the Amsterdam gallery to photographers under the age of 35, for her series The History of Misogyny. From the long-term project, Abril submitted two sections: Chapter one: On Abortion and Chapter two: Rape. The monochrome still life photos document items relating to each theme, often captured like crime scene photos, accompanied by the painful personal stories and facts behind them.
With a background in journalism, the Barcelona-born photographer describes her research-based work like “slow storytelling on the invisible,” and says this particular project set out to “visualise the systemic control of women’s bodies and rights across time and cultures, so people will see that these issues are not confined to the past”. On Abortion tells heartbreaking accounts of women without access to safe abortion procedures, while On Rape explores the institutional structures worldwide that continue to fail survivors of rape – created when #MeToo was dominating the news headlines.
For example, a wedding dress is depicted alongside an account by a university student in Kyrgyzstan who was forced to marry a man who kidnapped and raped her. In On Abortion, a photograph of a pair of handcuffs is captioned with the story of a 19-year-old woman in Brazil who was handcuffed and forced to confess in hospital, after taking illegal abortion pills.
It’s therefore no coincidence that Abril’s work has won in the week Weinstein has been convicted, as her message is clear – there’s still a long way to go.
“Abril’s ambition to bring relevant societal topics like abortion and rape to the spotlight, especially within the current political and social climate, deserves recognition and strong support,” Foam’s jury states. “The result of her efforts to visualise these difficult subjects needs to be seen by an audience as large as possible.”
Laia Abril: Ala Kachuu, On Rape (2019). Courtesy the artist and Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire