Life from the waist down
Life from the waist down represents the healing process from an act of sexual violence or more specifically: rape. The form presents the idea of strength and recovery in terms of the later stages of Rape Trauma Syndrome when the healing process is under way. Rape Trauma Syndrome is the medical term used to describe a survivors reaction to having been raped. It is the response of a healthy person to the trauma of having been raped. The term covers a range of reactions, physical signs and symptoms of a survivor for the immediate months after the assault. The initial response to rape is usually high levels of distress immediately after the attack, some survivors will suffer psychological distress for years afterwards. ‘Life from the waste down’ represents the renormalisation stage of the syndrome, this is the point where the survivor will start to adjust to normal life again. Feelings of denial, shame and guilt have passed and the assault has been integrated so that it is no longer the central focus of the survivors living patterns.
The use of simply the lower body and the legs draws on the concept of ‘Dead from the waist down’ thus presenting a reaction to the assault which has occurred. The idiom ‘Dead from the waist down’ usually means that a person doesn’t experience any kind of sexual excitement. It was also the name and lyrics used for a song released by Welsh band Catatonia in 1999. However we have a person in recovery, in this, we present ‘Life from the waist down’. In this, we have juxtaposed the most famous term and presented a woman who has regained her strength and someone who will become interested in sex and relationships again.
A white feather was traditionally used as a symbol of cowardice, in order to shame men who didn’t wish to become soldiers in times of conflict. They are often seen as a sign from an angel or spirit from someone who has passed on, in this case, they are used to symbolise faith and protection by locating them within the unusual setting of the female form. The feathers within the structure indicate a woman who is still fragile, but they are also a very natural material and draw attention to nature’s healing process. This is the bodies remarkable way of healing itself, the use of medicines or aids is only really to assist the body in this process. The pubic hair is represented by foliage showing regrowth in the position around the groin. In this we have a representation of something which is alive and constantly changing, leave generally seen as a symbol of fertility and growth. Green leave in particular depicting hope renewal and revival. This form shows a women in recovery and all the strength which surrounds that process.