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Mort de l'être Androgyne/ Acid Attack Survivor Trilogy Portraits, 2021, charcoal on paper, 180 x 300 cm

Noreen Riepma
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In these works I expose the reality of sexuality and gender issues present within conservative and non-conservative cultures. Sometimes religious upbringing plays a role, sometimes it does not.

However, lots of people struggle with their sexual identity and gender on a daily basis, regardless if they have been brought up in a conservative society/culture or not. And are being ridiculed and even punished for who they are based on their gender and or sexual preferences.

In the drawing of the bare torso of the androgynous being I represent a self-portrait of a being that is gender-less. The work shows my own struggle with gender within a patriarchal system. Now I am not just a women, but I am a male too. The mouth of the being is gaping and the eye-sockets are hollow because the being is in conflict with its own cultural and sexual identity.

In the Acid Attack Survivor Trilogy Portraits I represent three victims of acid attacks. One women is from India, one from Afghanistan and one is from Iran. All three women have their own story. Acid attacks happen worldwide and to every gender, but here I take an example of three women. The woman from Afghanistan got acid in her face because she rejected her marriage proposal, the Indian woman got acid in her face because she became more successful than her husband. The woman from Iran got acid in her face because she had sex before marriage. All three portraits are based on real victims with their real life stories.

What especially fascinates me is to express the beauty of discomfort and the darkness behind my own suffering as well as the sufferings of others related to discomfort in my charcoal drawings.

I strongly believe that bringing discomfort to attention through art and being open about your discomfort to other people is what connects us together and just maybe, that might be an important step in not just bringing us closer to understanding each other, but also appreciating the beauty and acceptance of being confronted by feeling disturbed and dealing with discomfort.