Tattooed Skeleton (2010)
Suzanne Lacy with Cecilia Barriga

Domestic violence was the theme of this year-long project in Madrid, to critically examine how media and official political discourse construct narratives of gender violence, and the effectiveness of these narratives in the public domain. Lacy worked with collaborators in government, non-profit organizations and the arts to explore gaps between the experience of women who have survived abuse and society’s laws and practices. The project began with a white mask that protestors in Spain have used to symbolize how victims of domestic violence must remain hidden for fear of retribution. The project embraced the complexities of this symbol, which also provoked feelings of entrapment and helplessness for abused women. Four hundred personal narratives from women around the country were recorded by hand onto the face of the white masks that were used throughout the project. Tattooed Skeleton consisted of a series of performances and strategic civic interventions: videotaped interviews with women living in a shelter; a film screening during an annual award ceremony for service providers produced by the Spanish government; a conversation between activists, journalists, and government officials to explore new narratives; an art exhibit in the Reina Sofia Museum; a live-streamed performance event with school-age youth; and a massive protest on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, where the names of women who were killed during the past year were read. Taken together, these numerous acts/interventions over the span of four months explored existing conventions across the spectrum that “stories” domestic violence in Spain, and offered new ways of thinking about the issue. 

Produced by Berta Sichel for the Museo Reina Sofia, and supported by the Delegación del Gobierno para la Violencia de Género, Ministerio de Sanidad, Politica Social e Igualdad, Antimuseo de Arte Contemporaneo, Toxic Lesbian, and the United States Embassy, Madrid, Spain. 

Tattooed Skeleton is a film by Cecilia Barriga.