“Physical Evidence Museum” is a documentary exhibition in a private flat that looks at domestic violence from the perspective of women survivors. The museum's collection is made of everyday items-witnesses of domestic violence that we have collected with the help of many women from all over Latvia, and also from other places the museum has visited - Estonia, Poland and Switzerland. All these are real stories by real people.
“Physical Evidence Museum” exhibition first took place in Riga during the International festival of contemporary theatre “Homo Novus” on 3-10 September 2020. It was created by Laura Stašāne and Jana Jacuka and made possible with the participation and contribution of many women, but especially our core team - Sabīne, Anna, Karlīna, Jana and Agnese. The exhibition has since been presented in Warsaw, Tallinn and Bern with the participation of local team and women.
The museum's collection is now available online. We sincerely hope it will encourage more women to come out with their stories. The truth is that society still does not offer enough places for women to talk about this experience. We hope that Physical Evidence Museum can be such a place for sharing your story and knowing that you are being heard.
A note form the authors:
We have been exploring the subject of domestic violence and ways how art can help to talk about already in our previous collaboration. The idea of the museum came from a wish to give voice to many women survivors who don't want to be silent any more. In Latvia 1 in 3 women experiences domestic violence across their lifetime but the majority of cases are kept hidden and the abuse can continue. Yet, those events at home behind closed doors that nobody speaks about and pretends they didn't happen, always have witnesses. They are everyday things that would never be accepted as credible evidence in court or police, but for the woman they speak volumes of pain.
We are not collecting incriminating material. In this museum we want to create a space where we can talk about the experience of domestic violence in a different way - with care, gentleness and empathy, bringing forward the notion that every time you get hurt counts as violence and it should never be justified.
While making this museum, we came to understand that violence is not only the big, shocking moments. Once it has entered home, it is present there in daily details. We hope that our museum can contribute to recognizing violence on an everyday level and drawing personal boundaries that are so important for every woman.
We encourage everyone that has been exposed to domestic violence, to speak up and share her story with the museum. We ask it because it might make difference for somebody, make her feel less ashamed and less frightened. It might remind somebody that she is not alone or crazy or stupid. It might wake her up. It might show to somebody still fresh how bad things can get and you better run now. It might show that children will not say thank you that you kept the family together despite. It might give some children their childhood back. It might make somebody invisible to become visible again. And then it is a gift for those of us who want to listen and learn.
With love and admiration,
Laura & Jana
Project “Physical Evidence Museum” collaborates with “Archive of Violence” run by the Autobiographical collection at the Latvian University's Literature, folklore and art institute with the aim to document the history of violence in Latvia.
More on “Physical Evidence Museum” project HERE
The digital platform “Physical Evidence Museum” is a project of "Creative Europe" platform "Magic Carpets" and made by co-funding from Riga City Council and “KultūrElpa” programme of State Culture Capital Foundation.