Sunday, 10 April 2016


The convention for the representation of a victim especially in cases of sexual abuse is the silhouette or blurred out face, their voice distorted or replaced by an actor on the news. 

Here though the subjects from this new series of images created with the cooperation of Minnow Films and the BBC, present themselves defying this stereotype and for the objectification of the lens; out of the shadows and into the light. The portraits are a recognition of their role as victim and survivor but beyond the terrible narrative that has blighted their childhood and inevitably influenced their adult lives, they are more ambivalently representative of a shared reality for all of us.

The words 'victim' and 'survivor' whilst conventionally useful in defining the terms through which we view the subjects as an item of news, continue to acknowledge the presence of the perpetrator and this goes some way to explain the reticence many have in coming forward to be defined in these terms. If we remove the narrative of these sitters we are presented with an iconography of ordinariness, the presentation and celebration of the relatively mundane subject, barely noticed as we pass each other in the street but frozen here to be scutinised as we might do ourselves in the mirror. Can our story be read in the way we choose (consciously or otherwise) to present our personality to the world? How has our unique response to the most difficult moments in our lives affected how we are seen and accepted by ourselves and society?

In the final edit I am hugely challenged by this notion of a curated defining moment. It has taken the subject of childhood sexual abuse to bring this to the forefront of my mind. I have included a selection of images (below) that satisfy the photographer in me but they inevitably lack fairness. The invitation is to scrutinise each subject and form a relationship with them in relation to our own life experience. Not purely as subjects of some distant sensational news story but as representatives of our own emotional possibility. The complete series hopefully should act as a form of human typology, the shared experience being the timeline of our growth into an adult. The horror that defines them in is context of abuse, is only a small part of their lives up to this point; in many cases they have relationships and children of their own. We should not allow ourselves to be entirely defined by the past but accept the good and bad as part of the experience that shapes us and celebrate the great variety of human experience.

Thanks to all for your trust and support.
© Richard Ansett 2016

© Richard Ansett 2016

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