“In her ongoing series Light Brown Butterfly, Maya June Mansour investigates the lasting physical and emotional impact of an act of sexual assault she experienced in her youth. Mansour was prompted to begin the projects after being diagnosed with an ovarian cyst that formed as a result of internalized stress and anger from the event. Working between a variety of mediums, from 35mm film to Polaroids to multi-frame cameras, Mansour’s series of self-portraits depict the non-linear process of healing, describing each of the photographs as “pages from a journal.” Beauty is an integral part of the work and her creative process, acting both as a tool of self-care as well as an exploration of the spiritual attributes beauty can offer.
“I want victims or survivors of sexual assault to feel seen in a way that they haven’t before,” she says. “I’ve never really resonated with the stories or the phrase #MeToo before, so this is my version of that.” The mirror, a recurring motif, integrates Mansour’s emotional journey of reflection to create this work, while also asking viewers to consider their own life and position as it pertains to sexual violence and patriarchy. In I’m Still Here (2022), a small mirror featuring Mansour’s reflection is almost invisible against the larger interior space, hinting at the ways in which trauma can often be invisible on the outside. “When you have that kind of trauma it becomes a part of you, it informs everything,” Mansour says. “This photograph shows how it’s almost easy to look at a person and not see it—but once you see my face in the mirror, it’s impossible to miss.”” - Aperture, Photographs That Show the “Fire and Thunder” of Contemporary Life
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