Staging a dark reality

Photograph by Mary Anderson

[W]hat started as a project for a photography production class has now turned into an exhibit at the IMA Gallery.

Mary Anderson, a Ryerson University student, is the photographer behind the Section 265 exhibit. Anderson’s work maps out 12 cases of sexual assaults that occurred publicly in the streets of Toronto in 2011.

“It was supposed to be a documentary project. So I kind of wanted to play with the idea of what documentary meant,” says Anderson. “I wanted to incorporate the truth aspect of documentary but also take a role in constructing the photographs.”

Police news releases were researched and the photographs were constructed to represent the individuals who were sexually attacked.

“I tried to be as authentic as the reports and tried to use objects that would represent the individual that was attacked. And most of them are gendered, for example Richard was a 14-year-old boy so I wanted to be more traditional in that object with the baseball and glove.”

Anderson faced obstacles while shooting, as it was her first solo exhibition.

“I didn’t want any people in them so some of the places are busy with traffic and stuff and I wanted to shoot them during the day to kind of contradict that notion that it only happens are night.”

Having received a BA in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Saskatchewan, Anderson has always had a keen interest in public matters. She hopes to raise awareness by fundraising for the Assaulted Women’s Helpline whose 24/7-crisis line services women who have experienced abuse in the province of Ontario.

Section 265 will continue to be exhibited at the IMA Gallery until Oct. 27.