The hash tag #MeToo went viral in the social media in October 2017. #MeToo is a movement against sexual harassment and assault and was supposed to empower women who have experienced sexual abuse. Through this movement sexual abuse became more present in the public discourse, the issue of child abuse, however, is until today still a taboo subject, although children become everyday victims of sexual abuse. The World Health Organization estimates that almost 18 million children in Europe have fallen victim to sexual abuse. Until today child abuse is marked by silence, solitude and strict secrecy. Victims often stay silent because they feel ashamed or because their perpetrators exert pressure on them. Victims also repress these terrible deeds, as a mean to maintain the secrecy from themselves. The media and the public often concentrate on the person of the perpetrator, his history, motives, and the reasons for the committed crimes. Victims of sexual assault are barely visible and remain often behind the scenes.

The forgotten victims of sexual abuse are the subject in Sara Sarshar’s solo exhibition FORGOTTEN ANGEL. Art is for Sara Sarshar a main way to give the forgotten victims a picture and to face the taboo issues of assault and abuse. The concept of the hidden is the exhibition’s leitmotif and a visual metaphor for the invisible victims. The exhibited works are partly hidden behind a plastic curtain and become only at a second glance visible for the viewers.

Sara Sarshar’s art emotionally provokes the viewer, but raises at the same time the awareness for such difficult subjects. Sara Sarshar concentrates on the victims and illustrates the after effects, the suppressed memories and traumatisation as result of sexual abuse.

To illustrate the invisible victims’ suffering, Sara Sarshar works with the artistic mean of installation. In her installations she uses sculptures, paintings, textiles, and videos. Installations are an important mean to engage the viewer with the issue of her work, as Sara Sarshar explains: “The reason for my choice of creating installations is to make an atmosphere which is absolute. The truth created by our perception is significant. Walking through, breathing, living, using all senses creates a manifestation, which makes this fantasy believable. Almost as if you are living in the story, in the piece. The audience is open to their very own personal experience; the primacy of my work is the perceptual experience. The relationship between the viewer and the piece is in that very moment, in the present without a direct secondary system.”

With the thematic issue of child abuse, Sara Sarshars’ image worlds might appear bleak, but they confront the viewer with the deepest abysses of the human condition. Sara Sarshar does not only try to illustrate the darkness and to accuse the perpretrator, but she also examines the darkness and downsides of human beings in order to lend a visual voice to the silenced and hidden victims.

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