On January 12, 2012 the Mayor of Los Angeles presented Suzanne Lacy’s public, artwork installation, Three Weeks in January: End Rape in Los Angeles. Pacific Standard Time and LACE projects is a collaborative work combining performance and conceptual art and is a re-creation of her pioneering social artwork Three Weeks in May, which first took place in May of 1977.
Lacy has been a leading art activist for justice for women for the past forty years. Three Weeks in January uses art as a means of exposing the issue of rape and employs Lacy’s activist media intervention strategy where the space of news media becomes the platform for performance.
The installation is a large scale map of Los Angeles on display at the LAPD Headquarters. The map will show a public record of the rapes and sexual assaults reported from January 9 to February 1, 2012. Each day will mark the prior day’s reports made to the LAPD on the approximate locations of the crime’s occurrence.
For every crime site marked in red, ten lighter marks represent the estimated number that may go unreported.
The work was conceived as a large performance which involved artists, politicians, reporters and policemen- all operating with the shared vision of “art”, as art. Los Angeles Chief of Police, Charlie Beck delivered a speech emphasizing the harrowing depths rape has on the human soul. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa exhaled, “That is powerful,” immediately after stencil painting the word “rape” onto a reported location on the map.
Since 1929, rape has been defined as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition, included only men having sex with women without their consent. On January 6, 2012, the Obama administration announced an expansion of the FBI’s definition of rape, which will now include several forms of sexual assault and male rape.
Suzanne Lacy continues to prove herself a prolific artist and educator. For more LACE performances check out Los Angeles Goes Live.
by Estée Ochoa